§ MR. HUME
rose to bring forward the Motion of which he had given notice, for an—Inquiry into the state of the Navy since 1832, as regards the building, alterations, and repairs of Her Majesty's Ships.The Motion, though comprised in two lines, comprehended the whole question of the system of naval architecture in this country, and the manner in which it had been conducted since 1832. He had no hesitation in saying that the system of naval architecture in this country, and the management under which it had been conducted during that period, had been most unsatisfactory. Unlike every other department in this or in other countries, matters had not been progressing from a bad to a good system, but had stood still, if they had not retrograded; and he should be able to prove to the House, and expose to the country, mismanagement to a great extent, entailing vast loss upon the nation in money, with great discredit in character. He must first take the House back to the period when the Navy Estimates were before them fifteen years ago. The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) was then at the head of the Admiralty, and had most unadvisedly put an end to the School of Naval Architecture, which had existed for about twenty-one years; he had also openly, in the most extraordinary manner, depreciated the characters of those who were then pupils in that school; and had committed himself to an opinion which could scarcely have been believed by any one who did not hear it—that he did not consider science could be applied in the way proposed in that school to the purposes of naval architecture; the right hon. Baronet stated that he thought a captain in the Navy was as good as any other person to conduct that department. He had not been aware that he himself had spoken so distinctly and strongly on the subject as he found that he had done; on the 29th of June, 1832, when the subject of Sir William Symonds' appointment came before the House, he stated that the appointment was most unjust to the 153 country, which would he deprived of the scientific skill that might have been available, and that our great naval power would be in jeopardy by being placed in hands utterly incompetent; that he did not wish to disparage Captain Symonds, who was a distinguished naval officer; and that he objected to him, not as such, but as Surveyor of the Navy—an office for which he was unfit, because he was ignorant of naval architecture. The report made in 1806 by the Commissioners on the Civil Affairs of the Navy showed a marked contrast between England and France in the application of scientific principles. There was no department of manufactures which in the present day did not afford numerous proofs of the great progress made in this respect. It was only in applying science to naval architecture that England was backward. He was prepared to prove his case before either a Committee or a Commission. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dorchester had stated when Captain Symonds was appointed, that Captain Symonds was entirely unknown to him, but had been brought under his notice as a man of talent. Objections having been stated to the appointment by himself (Mr. Hume), Sir Byam Martin, and others, the right hon. Gentleman expressed his confidence that when the Navy Estimates were brought forward the following year, it would be admitted that the experiment had been made most wisely. The right hon. Gentleman's words were—He was perfectly unknown to me, except in his profession, and I have selected him on account of the inquiries which have been made, and on account of the highly-approved ships which Captain Symonds has built. But I am perfectly ready to admit that the merits of this appointment are about to be put to what is the fairest test. There is a ship now ready for sea, built tinder his own immediate inspection, and I am quite willing that the merits of the appointment should rest upon the fate of that experiment. I am quite confident that when I shall meet the hon. and gallant Officer again on the Navy Estimates of next Session, he will admit that the result of that experiment has proved that this appointment was made most wisely.His own opinion, on the contrary, was that it had been most unwisely made; that it had proved lamentably ruinous to the interests of the country; and that the time had arrived when it was necessary to arrest the progress of the evil. The right hon. Gentleman had also observed that he did not believe the Surveyor of the Navy was required to be a practical shipbuilder. Such were the views of the right hon. 154 Gentleman. Before showing the nature of the school and the system which that right hon. Gentleman had destroyed, he wished to explain why the School of Naval Architecture was originally established. He had a strong sense of the injustice done to individuals by its abolition. A breach of public faith, indeed, had, in his opinion, been committed; for the young men who sought admission to that school came forward with qualifications such as those required of young men entering Hailey bury College. Promises were made to induce them to induce them to qualify themselves for the public service. Expectations were held out, that offices of emolument would be opened to them, affording opportunities of acquiring distinction as well as of obtaining support. The Third Report of the Commissioners of Naval Inquiry, dated 24th of June, 1806, described the then existing system of education for shipwrights as exceedingly defective, and proposed to alter it, so as to secure the services of persons more liberally educated. The report stated—We find that apprentices are admitted at the age of fourteen; that at their admission many of them cannot read or write; few have much education. As apprentices they serve seven years; no care is taken to teach them anything during that time but their business as shipwrights. At the end of the apprenticeship they generally serve two or three years, working as shipwrights, after which time those reckoned fit for it are commonly employed as overseers of ships building in the merchant yards. In the whole course we have described, no opportunity will be found of acquiring even the common education given to men of their rank in life; and they rise to the complete direction of the construction of the ships, on which the safety of the empire depends, without any care or provision having been taken on the part of the public that they should have any instruction in mathematics, mechanics, or in the science or theory of marine architecture.Such was the account of the state of naval architecture in 1806, and this was the remedy suggested:—To put an end to this want of foresight and due consideration, which may finally lead to so much danger to the country; to bring into our dockyards apprentices of more liberal education than has hitherto been required; to instruct them while there in mechanics, in mathematics, in drawing, and in everything connected with the science of naval architecture; to employ them during a portion of their time in working with the shipwrights, in the building and repairing of ships, so as to add the practice of the art of shipbuilding to the study of the theory; and, by these means, to enable them to form the plans of our ships of war consistently with scientific principles, and render them at the same time competent to judge of the labour that must necessarily be bestowed on the execution of every part of a ship, the 155 wages that by proper exertion may be earned by those employed on it, and the quality of the work when completed; these we consider to be amongst the most important parts of the duty which your Majesty has been pleased to commit to us, and we propose what follows as the best plan for the attainment of those objects, that, after the fullest attention, has occurred to us.What followed? His Majesty's Government, in 1809, stated what were their intentions on the subject, and, in 1811, established the School of Naval Architecture. At that time, the state of science, as applied to naval architecture, was so greatly superior in France, that the only good ships England had in her service were copies of ships taken from other countries. Taking such considerations into account, and cherishing the spirit of Englishmen, who would not allow themselves to be dependent upon others, the Commissioners acted wisely in recommending, and the Government acted wisely in establishing, the School of Naval Architecture. When the Order in Council was issued on the subject, the prospect was held out that those who were studious and attentive would be rewarded in due time by appointments to the employments which existed in the dockyards. The Commissioners of Naval Revision recommended that the number of students should be so great as should be sufficient to supply the places of officers who might die or be removed. The situations to which they might aspire were the following:—Master Measurer, since abolished; Foreman of Shipwrights, Master Boat builder, and Master Mast-maker, now foremen of the yard at 2501. per annum; Assistants to Master Shipwrights, 400l. per annum; Mechanist in the office of Inspector-General of Naval Works, abolished; Civil Architect and Engineer, 8001. per annum; Assistants to the Surveyors of the Navy, abolished; Master Shipwright,6501.; per annum; Second Surveyor of the Navy, abolished; Inspector General of Naval Works abolished; First Surveyer of the Navy, 1,000l.. per annum. These were the prizes which were held out to the young men who should enter the service. The right hon. Gentleman had said the school had entirely failed. It was a proper matter for inquiry whether imperfections existed in the establishment; but why destroy it? What ship had been produced worthy of being called an improved ship under Captain Symonds? And what was the result when the pupils of the School of Naval Architecture were allowed to try their skill in the construction of ships? Com- 156 plete success had, he believed, been the consequence. Yet after twenty-one years' service they did not receive any one of those appointments which Government had pledged itself to give them. The last Board of Admiralty had allowed them an opportunity of showing how their art and science could be applied. Let naval officers state what was their opinion of the Esipégle and the Thetis, as compared with the ships of Captain Symonds. Then there were at least five or six who had distinguished themselves by the knowledge they had shown of subjects immediately connected with the branch to which they had devoted themselves. Hon. Members, on comparing the principles laid down in the Catechism of Naval Architecture, by Sir William Symonds, with those laid down by pupils of the School of Naval Architecture, in their publications, would be able to satisfy themselves of the great superiority of the latter. The work of Chatfield seemed to throw the character and conduct of Sir W. Symonds, as a naval architect, into the shade. When had a better treatise been produced than that on masting by a pupil of the same institution? Where had papers appeared like those of Mr. Cruize? The right hon. Gentleman, indeed, had thought proper to put an end to the publication of those papers, which had proved so beneficial. Having ascertained the total number of ships built since 1832, and having obtained, so far as he could, the history of each ship, he was prepared to prove that in almost every instance there had been a failure in construction; that the objects required in respect of stowage, floatage, fighting—everything requisite in a ship of war—had in the great majority of instances been completely missed. Then the alterations were interminable; the expense was enormous; and scarcely any of the ships answered the purpose for which they were built. Such being the case he wished to bring his charge, not against Sir W. Symonds, but against the Admiralty, who had allowed such proceedings. Could it be said that they had exercised a sound discretion? One of the statements in his possession set forth the amount of money voted for wages and naval stores during fifteen years. If it had been properly applied, he should have thought little of the largeness of the sum, which amounted to 22,000,0001. He was prepared to prove that a Large portion of that had been wasted. Since 1833, 8,000,0001. had been voted for wages, and 14,000,0001. 157 for naval stores; making 22,000,000l. altogether. Deducting the votes for 1847, it appeared that, under Sir William Symonds, 19,900,000l. had been expended. The statement as to the ships laid down during the same period showed the following results:—
Ships of the line, on Sir W. Symonds' design, laid down since 1832 9 On designs by the former Surveyors, laid down in 1812 to 1828 10 On the French model of M. Sané 1 Total launched 20 Frigates, on designs by Mr. Fincham, laid down in 1843 1 On Sir W. Symonds' designs, laid down since 1831 15 On designs by the late Surveyors, laid down in 1820 to 1828 6 On the French model of Pestal, laid down in 1828 1 On design of School of Naval Architecture, laid down in December, 1844 1 On design by Admiral Hayes, laid down in 1836 1 On design by Captain (now Admiral) Elliot, laid down in 1842 1 Total launched 26 Corvettes, on designs by Sir W. Symonds, laid down since 1834 4 On designs by the late Surveyor, Sir R. Seppings, laid down in 1830 1 On designs by Professor Inman, laid down in 1827 1 On designs by Captain (now Admiral) Elliot, in 1836 1 Total launched 7 Brigs, on designs by Sir W. Symonds, laid down since 1831 24 On designs by Captain Hendry, R. N., laid down in 1842 1 On designs by different Master Shipwrights, 1843 3 On designs by School of Naval Architecture, 1843 1 On designs by Private Builders, laid down in 1831, one—in 1843, one 2 Total 31 Brigantines, on designs by Sir W. Symonds, laid down since 1835 3 On designs by Sir R. Seppings, laid down in 1829 1 Total 4 Packets, on design by Sir W. Symonds, laid down since 1832, and launched 9 The following ships were building or in progress: Ships of the line, on Sir W. Symonds' models 19 On French model of Sane 1 By Mr. Lang 1 By School of Naval Architecture 1 By the late Admiral Hayes 1 Total 23
The steam navy was not included. The charge was, that failures in building ships had taken place to au enormous extent. Scarcely one ship had been laid down by Sir W. Symonds which had turned out other than a failure. The Vernon was the first great ship, and had already been made a subject of remark in that House. On the 4th of March, 1842, Captain Rous
Frigates, on Sir W. Symonds' models 10 Mr. Fincham 1 Mr. White (private builder), Deptford 1 Mr. Blake (late master shipwright), Portsmouth 2 Mr. Lang, junior, Woolwich 1 Total 15 Corvettes, on Sir W. Symonds' model 1 Brigs, on Sir W. Symonds' model 11 Brigantines, on Sir W. Symonds' model 1—"condemned the Pique as a bad sea-boat, and not a good ship at her anchors. She floated one foot deeper than the calculation, with only four months' provisions (he commanded her). She shipped so much water as to wash away her head-rails, and put four feet water on the main-deck. Obliged to be put two feet by her stern to make her dry and easy. He said the Vanguard was endeavoured to be improved from this. His steamers would be swamped if caught in a heavy gale of wind. (The Gorgon he referred to).With regard to the Vernon, he was prepared to prove that in the first cruise, under Sir F. Collier, she pitched so heavily that she even broke off her head-rails short, leaving the fastenings secure, and the quarter-gallery from the stern; her labour-some qualities were fearful. When she bore the flag of Sir G. Cockburn, she pitched her bowsprit-cap into the sea, and shipped so much water in the forecastle that it ran down to the gunner's-room below, and nearly drowned his mate; the seas she was accustomed to ship at her fore-channel on the left of the bow when dipping into the water before she was able to rise again, ran aft to the quarter-deck; her lines were similar to a frigate constructed more than fifty years ago, and found not to answer. In fact, she was the copy of an old French vessel that had been tried, and had completely failed. He, therefore, said, that the right hon. Baronet, in getting hold of Captain Symonds, rested his merit—if any merit he had—upon a test which had completely failed. He thought he could show that, in 1831, Captain Symonds stated he knew nothing about shipbuilding, and that the Pantaloon was built on lines supplied to him by another. He was then unworthy to take the place of men whose education had fitted them for the duty, and who had subsequently proved 159 themselves good builders. He (Mr. Hume) thought, also, he could show that Sir W. Symonds' ships had completely failed in their object, when he said that almost every ship built for the East India Company's service, and for private merchants, had floated and answered, without material alterations; whilst almost every ship built by Sir W. Symonds had required alterations and improvement. With respect to the Queen, which was laid down as a 110 gun ship—"she was first laid down as Caledonia's class, and called the Royal Frederick, 120 guns, a new midship body given, and the extreme breadth increased to sixty feet, besides other expensive alterations. The great error of this ship's construction was, her want of displacement at the load-water line. Six feet additional breadth increased the weight of hull most materially, certainly close upon 200 tons. The load displacement remained nearly the same as the Caledonia's class; consequently when all the stores and equipments were placed on board, the midship-port was but six feet five inches from the water, instead of seven feet. This ship, by the reports of Sir E. Owen and Captain Rich, did not fulfil the great expectations anticipated, and on most occasions she was beaten by the Rodney; besides, the reports on her steerage were very indifferent, carrying lee helm. In 1844, so far as sailing went, when she came from Plymouth she was beaten by the St. Vincent; but this failure was trifling when compared with other failures. A trial was made between the Queen, the Caledonia, the St. Vincent, and the Albion, and the result was altogether unfavourable to the Queen."The first portion of the report respecting the ships of Captain Symonds was probably correct, and that they were good ships in smooth water, fair weather, and when lightly loaded; but what was their worth when laden with stores and guns and altogether fit for service? They were then found to be lamentably defective. This ought to have induced the Admiralty of the day to have instituted an inquiry, when they would have ascertained the erroneous principles on which these ships had been built. After the trial, the Queen was brought into dock at Chatham. Alterations were made which cost nearly 10,000l.: the midship magazine was taken away; the rudder enlarged; she was lengthened forwards and aft; the masts were shifted; the foremast moved aft three feet, and the mainmast fourteen inches; nearly two feet given to the sternpost, besides throwing out the stem eighteen inches, and four feet additional forefoot, up to the load-water line. These alterations amounted to nearly 9,0001. The subsequent trial showed that these alterations had somewhat improved her; but the question was, 160 whether the removal of the mid-ship magazine did not effect all the good by throwing the proper weights in the centre of the vessel; yet the bow was lengthened, the rudder extended, the masts were altered, and, indeed, there was scarcely a portion which was not altered, and yet the Admiralty of the day allowed all this to be done without complaint. He said, that when individuals pointed out these errors, it was the duty of the Admiralty of the day to ascertain the principles on which Captain Symonds had laid down his ships. He wanted to see whether there was any Minute for allowing the expenditure of this 10,000l. or 20,000l., and showing its application; for if the Admiralty did allow it, and did not test its efficacy, they did not do their duty. It was difficult, therefore, to know which party was most to blame; and for this very reason it was important to appoint a Committee. A great deal had been said about the Vanguard. She had been praised on all hands, and had been held up as perfect. He had gone on board of her at St. Helens; she swam prettily on the water. He was not a naval man, but he was told that she was perfect. Whilst she was a sailing yacht she did very well; but when she got her crew and stores in, it was very different. She had been praised and held up by all parties nearly, until the late trials in 1845 and 1846, as the most wonderful vessel ever constructed. He recollected Lord Minto declaring her to be perfection. Admiral Bouverie reported her equal to carry six months' provisions with great ease, with upwards of 400 tons of water; and her other qualities not to be surpassed, never straining a rope yarn. But what had turned out to be the fact? After the first trial in 1845, in the summer months, and a few months from the Devonport dockyard, we find she was ordered to Portsmouth to be docked; when docked, the nails of the second streak of copper were forced out by the working of the ship; and, in two instances, the copper was split, where the oakum had been forced out of the seams in consequence of the rolling and pitching, and she was compelled to be caulked all over. In this trial the Vanguard was invariably the last ship, beaten by every ship of the squadron. Sometimes the Superb, a sister ship, disputed the place of last. In this cruise the Vanguard went to sea under Admiral Parker as follows: twenty-three feet seven inches forward, twenty-four feet five inches aft, midship port, twenty-seven feet one inch; mean, 161 twenty-four feet. This return shows seven inches deeper forward, and five inches deeper aft; yet she swims one inch higher out of water by the midship port than the construction drawing in the same Parliamentary return. This draught of water was with twelve months' stores, 140 days' provisions, 384 tons of water—twenty-eight days less of water and provisions than any ship of the squadron. [Captain BERKELEY: What are the hon. Member's authorities for these statements?] He would prove them before a Committee. He would come to the hon. Captain himself presently, mid show that the Admiralty was speaking without book. The cost of the Queen appeared by the returns, No. 592, of the year 1846, and the House would scarcely believe that her whole cost had been 127,000l. The sum of 81,000l. appeared by the return to be the cost of the hull, and he was prepared to prove that this was understated; the total cost, with the fittings, was 95,000l., she had been repaired three times, and the aggregate cost was not less than 127,000l. What was the case with respect to the Vanguard? The first cost of the hull was 62,000l., and of the hull and rigging 77,000l.; and would the House believe that up to November, 1845, not less than 111,000l, had been laid out on that ship? This arose from the changes which had taken place, and the bad management which had gone on. He knew that there was a difference of opinion on these matters; and it was because of this difference of opinion that he should be glad of the opportunity of proving his case before a Committee. The return clearly showed that the draught of water did not answer. There was another sailing ship in the Portsmouth yard, the Prince Albert of 90 guns, and he was prepared to prove that she was totally unfit for duty.Her frame was badly constructed, weak shift of timber, and inefficient stern, a mere bundle of wedges confined together by long iron bandages round the exterior of the timbers, producing extreme weakness at the after-end of the ship.This displayed great want of professional experience, and also of the principles of construction. In Woolwich yard, the Boscawen was completed in frame and well seasoned as an 80-gun ship. She was then ordered to be taken down and altered to a frigate in November, 1832, on the lines of the Vernon, to be called the Indefatigable. The order was cancelled in April, 1834, and another given to make her a 70-gun ship, retaining the name of 162 the Boscawen, but causing great consumption and waste of timber. New timber was mixed with the old, &c. After this, part of the bow was taken down and altered in June, 1840. She had originally an upright stem and round bow. They were afterwards taken down, and the stem made to rake, and given a sharp bow. The stern was reconstructed, and put up a second time, with about two feet less rake than before. This ship had cost the country an enormous sum of money for so many alterations, and was still a poor specimen of naval architecture, although she had had an improved stern, from the model settled by the committee of master shipwrights assembled at Woolwich in 1842, similar to the plan of the Trafalgar, built there on Mr. Lang's principle. Here was a ship which had gone through five or six changes at an enormous expense; and all this had been done by the order of the Surveyor, and had been permitted by the Admiralty: and he asked whether this was a state of things with which they should be contented, or which they should allow to continue? There was the packet Cygnet, at Portsmouth. Her stern and topsides were taken down; she was rebuilt for a 10-gun brig, but carried only 6 guns. The Heroine was the same as the Cygnet. She was built for 10 guns; but after she was completed, her stern was taken down and altered. She mounted only 6 guns. The Siren, of 16 guns, had her stem taken to pieces and altered, and her quarter galleries taken off. She had still too much rake in her stern to use her guns clear. He was now showing the works of an officer who considered science to be of no consequence: these were the defects consequent on the right hon. Baronet's change; and he defied any one versed in naval architecture to go to any part of the world and find such changing and taking to pieces. The packet Express was built by contract in the river. She was taken into dock, and a large piece brought on to tin; fore part of the stem and gripe below, to make her stem more upright, the same as was done to the Queen. The Swift was built also by contract, and underwent similar alterations. The Star was built at Woolwich, and was so badly constructed that she rolled away her masts, and laid on her beam-ends; and her commander, Lieutenant Binhey, with all the men on deck, were washed overboard. The commander and fourteen men were drowned. The Hannibal, 90 guns, ordered to be 163 built, had some faulty construction, bad stern, and weak shift of timbers composing her frame. These ships hon. Members who knew nothing of shipbuilding might think were exceptions; but he would show that the same thing took place in other yards. In the Chatham yard, there was the Wolverine, of 16 guns; when completed in frame, her bow was found too sharp, and to fall in, and was taken down, and a new bow put up. The Wanderer, a sister ship, underwent similar alterations. The Orpheus, of 46 guns, had a frame provided, but it was transferred to other ships. The Cumberland, of 70 guns, was commenced building like the Boscawen when altered, namely, with raking stem and sharp bow. She was afterwards lengthened on the keel, to make the stem upright, and the bow made round abaft, like the Trafalgar. It was worthy of remark, that the Boscawen was originally an upright stem, and round bow, for which reason her whole frame was taken down, and her stem made to rake, and her bow formed sharp. Exactly the reverse, therefore, was done with these two ships; and it was thus that the best interests of the country were dealt with. The Goliah, of 80 guns, had a sharp bow like the Vernon, and raking stem; after being in frame, her stern was taken down and altered, timbers cut off, patched up with iron bandages, bound round to keep together that which, if properly constructed, would have united with the frame, and have supported itself without iron bands, and given strength to the fabric. If he proved this single case, he showed the incapacity of the Surveyor, and the fault of the Admiralty in permitting such things to take place. The Mars, 80 guns, was at first designed as the Goliah and Vanguard, with a sharp bow and raking stem; she was altered to a round bow and upright stem. He had given these instances, because he was anxious that the Committee should have proved before them whether he was in error; but he believed that his statements were correct, and he was prepared to stand by them. The Serpent, 16 guns, was built in the river in a hurry, for experiment, by contract; she soon became rotten, and underwent considerable repair; and the Snake, 16 guns, which was built at the same place, and in the same manner, had also had extensive repairs. It was important to show whether it was better to build ships in private yards, or in Her Majesty's dockyards, though he was inclined to the opinion that it was bet- 164 ter to build them in Her Majesty's dockyards, where all facilities could be afforded. In the Pembroke yard there was nothing but chopping and changing. The Vanguard, 80 guns, was hurried off without giving proper time to season, and soon became defective; she had a large expensive refit at Portsmouth, and the ship kept in commission while it was performing. The Collingwood, 80 guns, sister ship to the Vanguard, with sharp bow and raking stem, was afterwards altered to a round bow and upright stem, similar to the Trafalgar. In the Plymouth yard, the Statira, 46 guns, was completed in frame and plank, beams, &c, provided, then broken down, and the materials disposed of, for some other purposes, to Pembroke yard. The Tigress, of 46 guns; the Daphne, of 20; the Porcupine, of 20; the Pheasant, of 18; the Redwing, of 18; Sealark, of 10 guns; and the Volcano, Devastation, and Beelzebub, bomb-vessels, had their frames cut out, but the timbers used for other purposes, with loss of time, work, and much extra expenses. The St. George, 120 guns, and the Hindostan, 84 guns, were launched before they were properly completed, to make room for two 90-gun ships, of bad construction, weak shift of timber, and inefficient stern—the Aboukir and the Exmouth. He held in his hand papers which would show the vacillating conduct of the Government; that they were planning one day, and altering another, without having any certain object in view. He found that the Flora, 36 guns, had had her stern taken down and altered, but was still very bad; the Albion, 90 guns, when completed in frame, had had her stern taken down and altered, but was very faulty still. The Aboukir, 90 guns, sister ship, had an equally bad stern, and weak shift of timbers. The Exmouth, 90 guns, same class, ditto. The Creole, Niobe, and Amethyst, 26 guns, had had the frames partly cut out, similar in form to the Spartan, which ship was so deficient in capacity in after body, that she required the ballast to be placed in the coal-hole, before the fore hatching, with as much stores forward as possible; but that in bad weather would make her a very uneasy ship. The Union, 98 guns, was taken into dock for repair, then ordered to be made a 74-gun ship; was taken to pieces in dock to be rebuilt on a slip, and removed for that purpose; ultimately she was not rebuilt, and her materials disposed of some other way: this in- 165 curred expense, and the loss of a first-rate to the service. He would now read to the House a list of ships that had been sacrificed to the service, that had been condemned and sold off; although if proper measures had been taken, and there had been a proper surveyor, they might have been saved. The first was, the Scarborough, 74 guns, built by Sir R. Seppings. She was only a few months at sea, condemned at Sheerness by Sir W. Symonds, on Mr. Finehorn's report. Her housing all over in a superior manner. Sold out of the service for 6,0001. Taken to pieces in the river Thames in March, 1837. Found to be a sound good ship, requiring very few defects to be made good; in fact, was in excellent condition, and worth upwards of 40,000l. The next was the Thames, 46 guns, was built by Sir R. Seppings' copy of the Hebe, a new frigate, never at sea, roofed all over, launched at Chatham, condemned there, and made a convict ship at Deptford, and sent to Bermuda as such, sound, dry, and in good condition. The Hebe, 46 guns, was built by Sir R. Seppings' copy of the French Hebe, new frigate, never at sea, launched at Woolwich, roofed all over, condemned on report in the Medway, made a receiving ship at Woolwich. The Redoubtable, 74 guns, was built by Sir R. Seppings, Ineker, and Peake, the three surveyors—a good ship, never at sea, condemned upon report at Chatham, and broken up in dock at that yard, to the astonishment of all who saw her, having very few defects. By these and similar proceedings, the Navy had been greatly depreciated (exclusively of ruining ships and hulks) from January 1830 to 1841. He held that the efficiency of the Navy was very much injured by such a system; and although it was true that a vast number of ships had been built, yet the service was much damaged by losing those vessels. He was also informed that the masting of the ships, and the plans on which they should be masted, had not been at all attended to. Certain scales for masting had been laid down in the several dockyards by the late Sir R. Seppings; but notwithstanding that, larger masts had been placed in our ships than they were capable of bearing, and they were obliged to cut them down when in the Mediterranean. Although this had been done, there were no reasons given for it, and no results in order that the Admiralty might judge how far those alterations had been attended with benefit to the vessels. The efficiency 166 of the Navy had also considerably diminished, by the Surveyor compelling all ships (although not on his plan) to take masts and yards of larger diameter and less length than formerly—having made a set of masts and yards for each rate of his own ship—which, from their extreme breadth require excessively large diameter spars (as they roll all others away); he makes the ships also that are not on his plan, take the same, and this he calls classifying the Navy—see old class 74-ships, 18-gun brigs, &c. But there were other parts of the service to which he must also allude. It was important to know whether the Surveyor had done his duty, or the Admiralty had seen that he had done it. The hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Admiralty, had sent him a copy of the instructions given to the Surveyor, and he found that those instructions were partly as follow:—1. You are to prepare, for their Lordships' consideration, drawings of such ships and vessels as may be ordered to be built by you.6. Having been put in possession of the number and classes of ships to be employed in the course of the year, and having made yourself acquainted with the state of the fleet in ordinary, which you are to do by a strict examination once in the course of the year, you are to submit, for their Lordships' consideration any alteration that may appear to you advisable of the number of artificers and workmen in the several dockyards.You are also to examine and report to the board what ships are worn out, and what shipbuilding stores are so deteriorated as to make it advisable to put both up to public sale, or to take the ships to pieces.The reports of all surveys of Her Majesty's ships by the officers of the yards will be laid before you; and from them and any other information you may be able to collect, you are to consider and submit your opinion of the propriety of either reprieving, selling, or taking them to pieces, as from the circumstances regarding their condition, the expense of repairing, &c, may appear to you most expedient.When projects for building ships, for alterations in their masts and yards, and, in short, all proposals that have relation to any of Her Majesty's ships or vessels, are submitted to you for your opinion, you are to communicate the same in writing, with your reasons for approving or objecting to such proposalsBy these instructions the Surveyor was to make an annual report to the Admiralty; but if he was rightly informed, no report had been made since 1841; and even that one made to Lord Haddington, had not been produced, because it pointed out how much many ships had been injured by neglect, and how much expense had been incurred by wanton changes. [Mr. CORRY: A return is made every year.] Where were they then? They were not to be seen, and 167 he wished to have those returns laid before the House. In the year 1803, Sir W. Rule and two other gentlemen were surveyors; but in the year 1832, a change took place in the Administration, and Sir W. Symonds was appointed sole surveyor. He certainly was a naval officer, but was altogether ignorant of the science of naval architecture, yet was still considered sufficient for so important an office. If he were able to prove that due inquiry had not taken place into this department of the service, and if he could show the public had suffered great injury in consequence, he thought his case would be made out. It would be seen that the Admiralty had given orders to stop and proceed with several ships in such a way as to show the greatest indecision. That was particularly observable in the ease of the Exmouth and the Aboukir. By a return which had been laid before the House, he found that on the 9th of December, 1844, orders were issued by the Admiralty to stop the building of the Exmouth and the Aboukir; that alone would prove the distrust of the Admiralty in the Surveyor, and yet they had not the courage to remove him. First, they appointed a commission of master shipwrights to report on his plans. Then they appointed a second commission, which made a report also; and on the recommendations contained in that report the ships which were then in course of construction were ordered to be stopped, because they were all laid down on the lines of theAlbion; and she rolled so much, and behaved so badly, that it was thought improper to proceed with them. He had there a diagram, which showed the rolling of that ship, and on looking to that, it was really wonderful how any man could keep on her deck in security. The Abouhir was then three-eighths completed; and the Exmouth, according to their dockyard arithmetic—which was as barbarous as their shipbuilding—two parts and a quarter of an eighth. [An Hon. MEMBER: Merchant builders calculate in the same way.] But that was no reason why they should follow a had example. In this condition the ships remained in 1844. In 1845 and 1846, nothing was done; but in 1846 and 1847, without any general order, except placing them on the list, they were ordered to be advanced. Now, as they had been stopped by a special order, he conceived they should have been advanced by a special order also. In February, an order was given to advance the Aboukir 168 two-eighths, and the Exmouth three quarters of one-eighth. On the 28th March, orders were again issued that the works should be suspended. In a very few weeks the works were renewed; and they were now going to lengthen those ships, and launch them. There was a history to do credit, or discredit rather, to any body of men who ever allowed themselves to be bamboozled into neglect of their duty. It might be supposed that all these remarks were true of sailing vessels only; but he had also a list of failures in steam vessels for the House. He found that when Sir W. Symonds started, he had, by Admiralty order, the drawing of the following steam vessels as a guide for his own construction, namely, the Comet, Lightning, Meteor, Pluto, Flamer, Firebrand, Firefly, Spitfire, and Medea, from which his first production (assisted by Mr. Edye) was the Gulnare, increased in breadth from the Comet. His first vessel, the Gulnare, failed—too deep and very slow; her power was then increased to obtain speed, many alterations made in her fittings, &c.; and to cover these mistakes, her name changed to Gleaner; but still being too deep, was sent to Chatham, cut into two parts, and lengthened; still a failure, very slow and very deep—could not carry her coals and stores. This was a bad beginning, and a bad specimen of steam construction. The Blazer and Tartarus were the next two built—both failed. Their engines and boilers were taken out, and new ones made of increased power. These vessels were laid up useless ten months, during the time the alterations were going on. Hermes, the next built, rolled and pitched to such a degree, that she was also sent to Chatham in May, 1840, to be cut in two parts, and lengthened two feet at the keel and twenty feet on deck, She had since had an upright stem and additional power, with other alterations. Volcano, a sister vessel, had the same propensities of rolling, &c. She plunged her bowsprit into the sea, and lost her jibboom and jib in the ocean, as she could not bring them up again. Gorgon, built at Pembroke; intended to carry guns, but found to be so deep in the water, the ports were obliged to be caulked in, copper on the bottom raised, and her power increased. The Cyclops, a sister vessel, in consequence of the Gorgon failing, was lengthened to remedy the evil, but could not carry the guns intended, being still too deep in the water. After these and other repeated errors, he has 169 increased the length of his steam vessels, and altered their forms. The Devastation, and that class of steamers, have been brought up to the same proportion of length as the Medea, and their figure made to assimilate more to that vessel. He now came to the Royal yacht. He was one of those who, when Sir R. Peel made the proposal for building that yacht, was of opinion that there were so many yachts that there was no occasion for any more; but they were assured by the Government that it would he made at very little additional expense, and that in case of war it might be converted into a war steamer if necessary. But what was the result? This was the last that was built after all their experience. A very dull man might become a shipwright in fifteen years; but still there was displayed about that vessel a want of scientific knowledge—a want of knowing what the effect of displacement, fore and aft, in relation to the ship's figure, was that had been the cause of all the Surveyor's failures. This Royal yacht was so imperfectly constructed, that she was obliged to carry 120 tons of ballast towards the stern; and when she was launched, she sank her head into the water with her stern up like a duck diving. She would not answer her helm, and had been altered again and again; but he wanted an account of those alterations. He believed that she had cost 100,000l. That was the last act of Sir W. Symonds. Whether the Admiralty had examined the line, or had taken any opinion upon it, he could not tell; but there seemed to be a kind of compact between the Admiralty and the Surveyor. Such a mode of conducting the affairs of a great department, was a discredit to any country. But he had not yet done. The Lizard, 150 horse power, a packet, iron steamer, built by Sir William Symonds, commissioned at Woolwich in 1842 by Lieutenant Macdonald, was nearly sinking in the basin from the weight of her stores; and all her stores, officers, crew, guns, &c, were turned over to the Spitfire of the same size, but constructed by Mr. O. W. Laing, jun., and now in the Mediterranean. The Spitfire took them all with heavier guns and double the quantity of coals, besides many other additions. The Spitfire's engines were old and very heavy, compared with the newer make in the Lizard. There were many similar instances of failure, also of falsification in that return. The Lizard required to be altered, and lighter guns and fewer stores 170 than were originally intended for her. But he would now turn to the official report of Captain Lushington, of the Retribution, of her putting back into Plymouth after the gale (on the 6th or 7th of June, 1846), when she washed her shot out of the racks about the neck; and his and Captain Ramsay's reports of his last trial with the Terrible (about the 2nd or 3rd of July, 1846), would show the complete defeat of the Retribution.Captain Ramsay reported of the Terrible, of June, 1846, that in towing the Etna, under sail alone, proved her great capabilities, without steam: and his reports of the 26th of July, 1846, on firing her guns, and comparative consumption of coals, also for the 9th of October, when loaded with provisions from Malta, show her great superiority. Sir W. Parker's and Captain Ramsay's reports of the 20th of October, 1846, of the Terrible towing the Hibernia, a first-rate ship, and in October or November, 1846, her sailing into Cadiz without her main-topmast, bearing the greater part of the fleet, although her floats were not taken off, confirmed her good character. The Terrible was constructed by Mr. Laing in 1845: she is a two-decker; was built at Deptford under very unfavourable circumstances—the timber, &c, having to be carried there, as it was the first opening of that yard, with no materials or workmen on the spot. The Retribution was constructed by Sir W. Symonds, has only one deck, and is 200 tons less than the Terrible. She was built at Chatham under favourable circumstances; but has cost, since her building, a very considerable sum in alterations, &c. She was designed for two decks of guns, but could not carry them, being too deep (her lower deck ports were caulked in). On the contrary, the Terrible carries her lower deck guns, and can use them, from her great stability, even when the three-deck line of battle ships dare not open their lower deck ports. The Terrible, with the same power, consumes considerably less coals than the Retribution, which is a much weaker ship, and badly put together. The Terrible was, comparatively, the cheapest steamer in the service, as she had most fully answered all the purposes for which she was built, without any alterationsThe report went on:—Neither the Retribution nor any of Her Majesty's war steamers can compare with the Terrible in any one point at sea, nor in their build. The Terrible has not altered nor strained in the least, but is as strong and as perfect as the day she was launched. The advantages of the Terrible air stated in the reports of Captains Lushington and Ramsay. The Avenger was built by Sir W. Symonds, in 1846—a still less ship than the Retribution—but cost considerably more in building than the Terrible, besides expenses afterwards; and she is still inefficient.He thought he had stated enough to show there had been, at any rate, great irregularity in that department of the service; that large sums of money had been expended, no one knew how; and that it was full time to step in and stop that extra- 171 vagance which, hitherto, had had no proper control. The Committee of Reference had not, in his opinion, the proper qualifications for their office; but their appointment showed that the Admiralty doubted the wisdom and authority of Sir W. Symonds. The Commission of 1842 were, he believed, all shipwrights; and they all reported on the Surveyor's ships. Where were those reports? Let the House have them, and he believed it would be found that they condemned those ships entirely. He did not blame the present Government; for he believed they had been very anxious to remedy those evils, and to appoint a Commission of Superintendence. But what use was that? The head of the Commission was certainly a very able man; but what education had his assistants? [An hon. MEMBER: They are all naval schoolmen.] Yes, that might be so; but what was the use of them, if they were placed under the Surveyor of the Navy? The present system was clearly imperfect, and the recommendations of the Commission of 1806 could not possibly be attained by such means. The next point he came to was that of expense. The cost of those vessels, too, had been enormous. By a return which was moved for by the hon. and gallant Officer the Member for Marylebone, he found that the Queen cost 127,000l., and the Trafalgar 114,000l.; but he believed the valuation was made in the time of war, when the whole charge was at war prices. The next ship, the Albion, which was to be the example and pattern of all others, up to the 1st of March, 1846, had cost 104,048?. The Rodney cost 145,000l. It was originally a better ship than the Albion; but 17,000l. had been expended upon her in alterations, and she had been spoiled. The Vanguard cost 111,000l.; the Penelope 101,0001. Those were large sums of money; but it was not so much the money as the system he complained of. He believed, however, that many of the returns that were made to that House were manufactured in the Surveyor's office. He remembered that in 1835, when a charge was made against Sir R. Seppings of using timber improperly, the right hon. Baronet then at the head of the Admiralty read a statement from a Mr. Hawkes, of the dockyard at Pembroke, on the subject. That statement was contradicted at the time; and afterwards, when he made inquiry, he found that the statement was not sent by any authority of the dockyard, but that it was entirely forged. He considered this, 172 however, as entirely a question of education. It was, indeed, a reproach, that, after they had had the evils pointed out so clearly by the Commissioners in 1806, not more had been done in that respect. Those Commissioners pointed out the way in which the young men of France and other countries were educated for the purposes of their Navy; and when they had become possessed of some of the best models of foreign ships which afterwards became the most striking vessels in the service, he had hoped that at no very distant day they might have built ships equal to them; but instead of attending to that point they had entrusted the Navy to quackery. The details he had laid before the House showed they had been impairing their Navy the whole of that time; that they had left it to one, who was certainly a naval officer, but who possessed no science or education; and looking to the fifteen years which had gone by since his appointment, he (Mr. Hume) certainly thought the time was come when an inquiry should take place, that all doubt on the subject might be removed. He wished to see a proper scale of education adopted, on a system worthy of the country. He understood that some such scale had been established in the dockyards; but it had never produced the amount of information, or that character among the men, which they wanted for the protection of the country and the welfare of the Navy, and for the character of the country. He knew that different interests were connected with this subject; he had heard this and that naval officer bandy about the merits of this or that Surveyor of the Navy; that alone showed great contrariety of opinion; and he, therefore, thought they ought to have an inquiry into the present system, to see what was the most beneficial course to be taken in future. Upon that ground he moved for an inquiry into the state of the Navy since 1832, as regarded the building, alterations, and repairs of Her Majesty's ships.
§ VISCOUNT INGESTRE
, in seconding the Motion, said it was no little satisfaction to find that this matter was made the subject of a distinct Motion, and not introduced upon the Naval Estimates, and when the House would be only attended by professional Members; when, in fact, the subject was one which should interest all the representatives of the people, because affecting a department of such great importance as that to which was confided the building of proper ships for their Navy; 173 such a subject, he said, he said, was worthy of the greatest attention of every Member of that House. It was hardly fair, he said, of them to call upon their seamen to take their places in inferior ships, in such ships as it had been repeatedly stated in that House had been building in their dockyards for a number of years back. He must say that he heartily thanked the hon. Member for bringing the subject before the House. That hon. Member bud gone into such details, that the House, be was sure, would be glad to hear that be would not attempt to follow the hon. Member in repeating these various details. Still it was necessary for him to make a few observations; and in these observations be hoped that the hon. Board of Admiralty would understand that he did not in any way imply censure upon them, nor upon any particular individual. That which he wished to say applied to the system which had been going on for a number of years, and which he contended was one that was totally inadequate to supply proper ships to the Royal Navy. If fault were to be found with any one, it was with the Board of Admiralty, and especially the right hon. Gentleman behind him (Sir J. Graham), because it was by that right hon. Gentleman that the Surveyor of the Navy had been appointed, without ascertaining whether or not he was capable of performing the duties of his office. To appreciate the beautiful form of a ship, was not sufficient for such an office; for if the propriety of that appointment were to be tested by the success of the Vernon, as the right hon. Gentleman had told him, in answer to a question he had asked him in that House in 1832, then it must be admitted that the appointment was one which bad most signally failed, inasmuch as that ship had proved herself to be, though presenting a beautiful battery, a most uneasy ship in bad weather, thereby making that battery comparatively useless, as also a most expensive ship in wear and tear. He had on more than one occasion shown that the duties of a Surveyor of the Navy were more than one man could satisfactorily perform. His duty was to examine the stores; to examine the timbers that came into the yards; and not to employ himself entirely in the designing and altering ships, as the present Surveyor had been doing. The first thing that ought to be shown on such an occasion as this was, that there had been no profusion and no useless expenditure. The hon. Member 174 for Montrose had shown what had been the expenses on several ships. He then should merely state that up to 1845 there were 1,356,000l. used upon ships that had been constructed, or that were in the process of construction. There was an almost similar sum as to steamers. Now, if this system were a good system, or if there were any fixed principle, he might venture to ask what could be the necessity for constant changes in almost every ship that was constructed? It was only a day or two ago he had received a letter from a distinguished officer, Captain R. Burton, which be should now trouble the House with reading:—15, Park-square, April 27, 1847.My dear Lord Ingestre—As the merits of Sir W. Symonds' intuitive mode of constructing our ships of war has nothing to do with politics, but is solely and exclusively a national question of vital importance, and as it is possible there are some Gentlemen within the walls of the House of Commons, as well as without, who may be still sceptical as to the results from dear-bought experience, I beg to acquaint you that the Albion, which is the model on which several 92 gun ships have been built, and are in the course of building, was originally intended to carry 68 pounders; but, in the absence of any accurate calculation of the displacement, when she was launched she sunk 80 considerably deeper in the water than intuitive foresight could divine, that it has been found necessary to substitute the much lighter calibre of 32 pounders.With this light armament, and all her stores, water, and provisions in, she has rolled forty-five degrees.Now, in place of sending this ship, which was to have been the model of a numerous progeny, to be tested as to her capacities, in the summer months, off the Sole Bank to the westward of the Scilly Islands—had she been sent off to the Black Rocks, or into the Bay of Biscay, from the end of November to the end of March, to have undergone, as she ought to have done, the severe test of the winter months; I leave you to judge, as well as every scientific nautical man in England, what would have been the probable result had she experienced a severe gale of wind, with all her water, provisions, and stores below the centre of gravity nearly consumed, and had she had her heavy armament of 68 pounders remaining above the centre of gravity. For my part, I have no hesitation in saying the chances are very great that she would have rolled over. For the mathematical question resolves itself simply into this—if, with a much lighter armament, and all her provisions, water and stores on board, she rolled forty-five degrees, what would have been the probable results with the alteration in the centre of gravity, when the weights should be greatly increased above, and those below dimished to a. vast extent by consumption?The mode in which ordnance are tested is by a large increase of powder, for it is evident if they bear this proof, no risk can be incurred from the ordinary charge used in action.The converse has been the ordeal which the 175 Albion has undergone; and what makes this the more unpardonable is, that this ship was to be the model from which so many ships were to be built, at such an enormous outlay of the public money.Believe me, my dear Lord Ingestre, very truly and faithfully yours,J. RYDER BURTON.The Viscount Ingestre, M.P.," &c.It showed that the great fault to be found with ships constructed by the Surveyor of the Navy, was the want of sufficient displacement; and that fault became more apparent as the size of the vessel increased, and the superstructure raised, which consequently also raised the centre of gravity; that great defects were found in all whenever a trial with them took place. Whilst mentioning the name of the officer who had written to him that letter, he could not but observe that a letter from the same officer had been read by the hon. Member for Coventry, in which he said that, instead of the classes of ships which they were now having built, these classes should be reduced to a smaller number—he thought five. Let them not, he said, as in the American war, expose their seamen to fight against larger ships than their own. He then referred to the trials between the Pique and the Inconstant, and the Pique and the Castor. The Barham, a 74, which had been made into a large frigate, out of nineteen trials beat the Vernon thirteen to six. He was quoting from a Parliamentary return made in 1836, and in it it was also stated that the Espiégle, the Flying Fish, and Daring, had proved themselves nearly equal in point of sailing, but that the Espiégle carried nearly six weeks more provisions and water than the Flying Fish, and drew less water than the Daring, and combined all the properties of a man-of-war. Returns had been made of the sailing of the Raleigh, built by Mr. Fincham, master shipwright at Portsmouth, and who had been the teacher of practical shipbuilding to the School of Naval Architecture, with the Constance, the Improved Vernon, as she was called, which was to be the paragon of the sea. He had not seen those returns in an official shape—why, he knew not; but he understood that the same return gave a comparison of the sailing qualities of the Eurydice (which was built by a late Member of that House, Captain Elliott), with the Spartan and the Thetis, with the America and Superb. He was informed by the captain of the Thetis, which was the produce of three members of the Naval School of Architecture, that she beat the others considerably; that 176 she carried all her stores and armament most perfectly; and that when extra stores and men were put on board of her, she was not put out of trim. He had no doubt that the returns relating to the Terrible would show that she was the cheapest vessel in the repairs she required; but that was not a question of economy—it was a question in which cheapness and efficiency were combined. The hon. Gentleman had given many details of alterations and changes, which had been made at great expense. He would not further allude to them than to say they proved a gross want of knowledge of what ships would do while they were on the stocks, or the displacement which would take place when the stores and provisions were put on board which were necessary for their equipment. There had been a system in existence of getting rid of ships built by rival constructors, which was disgraceful to the Navy and to the country. A hasty survey was held upon the ship, and she was sold for much less than she was worth, though in some instances a vessel had been saved even after she had been condemned upon the survey. The Dublin was one of those ships which had been saved after having been condemned, and she was now an efficient ship, on actual service. The hon. Gentleman had mentioned the case of the Scarborough. If he recollected rightly, that ship was an old 36, and in perfect condition; she was quite sound, and worth 35,000l., yet she was sold for 6,200l; of that fact he had been informed by a Friend of his, Mr. Young, who was then Member for Tynemouth; and upon a former occasion he had very strongly animadverted upon the case in that House. Then there was the case of the Tremendous, which was condemned to be broken up, although she was in perfectly good condition, and was now serving in the Pacific, under the name of the Grampus. After 14,000l. had been spent upon the Barham, and being reported as being the most successful ship against the Vernon, she was reported as an incompetent ship, and must be got rid of. The hon. and gallant Member for Gloucester had said that although much abuse had been thrown upon the larger ships of the Surveyor, still that his small ships were perfection. The Cleopatra of that class was a very beautiful ship to look at, and he believed sailed very tolerably; but she was very uneasy, and had that great and vital defect that she could not possibly stow a proper amount of 177 provisions. The Rover, again, was so top-heavy that they were obliged to alter her weight aloft and make it lighter; and, after all, they were obliged to get rid of her. There had been a constant dislike of all competitive constructors at Somerset House, of which the Admiralty were probably not aware; but the fact was, that there was a system of annoyance pursued towards them in all the yards—a regular system of throwing every possible hidden impediment in the way of other builders, that was most disgraceful. There was an officer of his acquaintance, Captain Smith, generally called Target Smith—the ingenious inventor of the paddle-box boats—a contrivance of the very utmost utility—indeed, so much so, that he thought no vessel ought to be allowed to proceed upon any voyage without them, because in every instance where they had been used they had been eminently conducive towards the safety of life: even he had the greatest difficulty—he met with the greatest hindrance—in getting those boats applied to the service. Another competitor, Mr. White, the naval constructor, of Cowes; he also met with a variety of little pettifogging obstructions in the discharge of the duties he was called upon to perform. Whatever they turned out that was good, was charged to be a plagiarism of something turned out by Sir W. Symonds. Sir W. Symonds might be a very good officer—indeed he believed he was, though he had not the honour of his acquaintance; but he denied that those constructors who had succeeded in building good ships had copied from Sir W. Symonds. Dr. Inman, a most intelligent and scientific man, was called upon, and built the Orestes and the Sapphire—vessels which were superior in stowage to any others in the Navy; and he was the master of that School of Naval Architecture which had been most wantonly destroyed. He would not allow himself to dilate upon the gross injustice of that proceeding. These gentlemen came into the service under a bond to remain for years; with the condition that they were to expect to fill the higher dockyard offices. The establishment was then destroyed: those gentlemen, with their high attainments, constantly persecuted and kept in the lowest offices; and upon one occasion when one of them went to remonstrate with the right hon. Baronet the Member for Dorchester, he was told he might go and get his bond burnt at Somerset House if he liked, or some- 178 thing to that effect. He could not see how in a matter of such a complicated character, a knowledge of which could only be arrived at step by step—he could not see how the Government could do otherwise than re-establish such a school as had formerly existed. The country would not remain satisfied with what fell from the Secretary to the Admiralty the other evening, although he had given an explicit promise upon a question most interesting to the whole nation. Naval architecture ought to have the whole of the talent and science which the country could afford; and he could see no reason why the School of Naval Architecture should not be re-established. The Admiralty had taken a step in the right direction when they appointed the Committee of Reference to see that the expenditure on the Navy was made in a proper manner; and he trusted they would adhere to the recommendation made by that commission. Was it true that the Albion had been found to be a failure, and that the ships of that class which were in progress had been ordered to be stopped? Was it also true that since that order they had surreptitiously been advanced from two-eighths to six-eighths of their progress? [Mr. WARD: The order was suspended.] He had then to throw blame upon his own friends for doing so, because it had been admitted upon all hands that the Albion had been a failure. The immense waste of money in making alterations in now ships, showed an utter want of capacity to construct ships on the part of the Navy Office; and that, in his opinion, alone formed a good ground for a Committee of Inquiry, or a Commission—hs cared not which, so long as the inquiry was fairly conducted. In order to show the effects produced by the want of such an education, he would just refer to a return which he had found on the Table since his arrival that day at the House. In doing so, he must complain of the Admiralty Office; for he moved for that return on the 19th of February, and he received it on the 29th of April, and then he found it was most incomplete and unsatisfactory. [Mr. WARD: The return would not have been put on the Table in an incomplete state had not the noble Lord pressed to have it before that debate came on.] He thought sufficient time had been allowed to make the returns, and yet half the questions were answered by the word "unknown." The first question was as to the centre of gravity of a certain description of 179 vessel with and without her equipment; and the answer was, "Unknown." He really did not know what the board was fit for, if it could not give answers to such questions. It showed, however, what was the march of scientific knowledge, when vessels were built without their capabilities being at all apportioned to the weight they had to carry. He found, however, a return of the difference between the calculation of displacement made as to the return of several vessels and their actual draught. In one, the Constance, the difference was equal to 180 tons; another, the Spartan, 120 tons; and so on. Now, on the contrary, there was the greatest possible accuracy in the calculations made by the gentlemen of the naval school as to the draught and displacement of the two ships built from their plans. This was so striking as compared with all the other ships, as to be alone sufficient to show the great importance of an instruction such as they had received. He was very anxious to know some particulars as to the sailing and other qualities of theThetis; but the return gave no information whatever. It was quite useless to move for returns from the Admiralty. He must say, however, that it showed a great want of respect to the House. One question was as to the expense of alteration; and the reply was, "Not known at Somerset House!" He should like to know what confidence could be placed in a department which exhibited so much ignorance of details they ought to be able to furnish. He disclaimed all party feeling—he was actuated only by a desire to see the Navy of England put on a footing, at least equal to that of any other nation in the world; but that would never be the case while the present system was persevered in, and he therefore most cordially supported the Motion of the hon. Member for Montrose.
§ MR. WARD
said, it was not his intention to follow his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose through every count in the bill of indictment which he had that night preferred, not so much against the present Government, or rather not against the present Government in particular, but against every Government that had had anything to do with the naval administration of this country for the last fifteen years. He was surrounded by those who were quite able to defend the conduct of their own Administration during that period; and he must apologize to the right hon. Member for Dorchester (Sir J. Graham) to whom the 180 hon. Member for Montrose had particularly addressed himself, for thus standing for one moment between him and the House. But his excuse was that he did think it desirable to state at once and distinctly, that having near at heart the efficiency of the Navy of England, Her Majesty's Government did not see how that efficiency could be promoted, or indeed any good end attained, by granting to his hon. Friend the Commission or Committee of Inquiry for which he had moved this night. He would make large admissions; and no doubt there had been errors. No doubt public money had been mis-spent. No doubt there had been a want of proper precaution. He did not say under what Government, but under all. And he thought it would be in vain to dispute that, after the admissions which were contained in the instructions to the Board of Reference by the late Administration, in the justice of every one of which the present Government concurred. The first paragraph of their instruction stated that—My Lords having had under consideration the large amount which is annually expended in building vessels of war, and the great importance of adopting such plans only as, after due examination by persons practically and theoretically acquainted with the science of naval architecture, shall appear to ensure the greatest possible degree of efficiency, for the several objects for which such vessels are designed; and seeing that in many instances the objects which constructors have had in view have not been fulfilled by the performance of their vessels when tried at sea, and that in others expensive alterations have been required after they have been built: and being, therefore, of opinion that it is expedient to have recourse to greater precaution than has heretofore existed, before finally approving of the draught of any vessel submitted to them, are pleased to direct," &c.Now he fully admitted the utility of that check, and the necessity for some such check being adopted; but he contended that the very moment when that check was established was not the moment that the hon. Member ought to have selected for making an inquiry. Errors there might have been; but had not his hon. Friend almost every security which he himself had suggested with regard to the future? Of whom was the Committee of Reference composed? Why, of the very men who were most prominent in the School of Naval Architecture, the loss of which the hon. Gentleman deplored. If he went over the names, he would find amongst them Mr. Read, Professor Inman, Mr. Large, and Mr. Fincham. He did not think that any better system than the 181 present could be devised by any inquiry which his hon. Friend could have—that was, any system which could afford a more direct and efficient responsibility to the House than that which the Government were determined to proceed upon in carrying out the recommendations of the late Board of Admiralty. The gallant Commodore had often suggested the appointment of some intermediate person or persons (he did not say whether one or more) who should he the responsible parties; but what, he wished to know, would that intermediate body be except a Surveyor of the Navy in another shape? It would only be another responsible body, interposing between those who were now responsible and that House; and he thought, therefore, that it was much better to have in the House of Commons those who were at the head of affairs, and who could be called to account for whatever was done under their superintendence and by their direction. He believed that those constant discussions did good; that they made men more cautious, and prevented the recurrence of much of that expenditure which had hitherto taken place. But he could see no better security for the future than the system now established, and which the present head of the Admiralty had determined strictly to adhere to in all his future movements. He totally disbelieved in the possibility, by any existing body in this country, of at once devising a perfect model for all future naval construction. He did not mean to say that science must not be brought to bear largely on all questions connected with naval architecture; but in the construction of a ship of war it was clear, from the admission of the noble Seconder of the Motion himself, that perfection could not be attained at once. The Thetis was said to be perfect; but he believed that an admirably satisfactory report had been made of her arrival at Lisbon. So also of the Sidon. In these cases, they must be guided by the reports of practical men, and his hon. Friend had himself shown how the highest authorities differed with respect to the efficiency of a ship, and how difficult it was to bring this matter to a test. His hon. Friend had referred to the Queen and the Albion. Now, he held in his hand a letter received by the Earl of Auckland from Sir William Parker, in which that gallant Admiral said—I think well of the Albion; she does not sail so fast as the Vanguard, the Superb, or the Cano-pus, and she is said to be very uneasy; but the 182 manner in which she stands up under canvass is astonishing. I wish that Captain Lockyer had been allowed months ago to ballast and trim her according' to his own ideas, for he is ' every inch a sailor,' and would have endeavoured to do justice to her. I agree with him, that the ship is fully equal to carry the long 68-pounders throughout on the lower deck, and I confess that I should like to see it tried. The Queen's sailing has generally been superior to the Albion's. I have heard no complaint of her being uneasy. In short, I consider her by far the finest ship of her class that has ever been built; and, in a general chase, she would probably be found amongst the best of the two-deckers."'Now where were they to go for authorities, if they did not refer to officers of the greatest experience, the greatest practical knowledge, and the most competent to form an opinion? He had found the same discrepancies existing throughout. He had the minute in his hand, which was spoken of by the noble Lord, relative to the trial of the Espiéyle; and it stated that the Flying Fish and the Espiégle sailed so nearly alike that the palm could not be awarded to either. It was clear, then, that we had not arrived at anything like that high standard which his hon. Friend seemed to think was possible. He admitted the necessity of bringing the best naval science possible to bear upon the subject; but he wished those who were in favour of re-establishing the Naval School of Architecture held the moderate expectations entertained by the members of that body. In the first report of Messrs. Read, Chatfield, and Creuze, in 1843, they said—It will be our endeavour to remove this misapprehension. In making this attempt, we do not arrogate to ourselves any new discovery; we merely assert that there are no insuperable obstacles opposed to sure and progressive improvement; that the course of proceeding in other branches of knowledge is applicable to this; and that inductive reasoning, based on mathematical investigations, may be applied with eminent advantage to naval architecture, as it has been to other branches of natural philosophy."'There was no doubt they were correct. What they recommended was the natural and proper course to take; and he could not suppose a Board of Admiralty rejecting or despising science in the May his hon. Friend supposed. Perhaps those Gentlemen had not had fair play; and he sincerely hoped that great improvements in naval architecture would he the result of their present efforts. As to the evidence adduced by his hon. Friend to-night, it was not founded upon any great naval authorities, and the House showed its sense of the question by a very thin attendance. 183 If Parliament had believed that 22,000,000l. of the public money had been wasted and thrown into the sea, and that after all this expenditure we had not a fleet that was in a condition to meet the fleets of France, Russia, or any other country, every Member of the House would have come down to his place to visit with reprobation such a system and such an expenditure. If his hon. Friend's case were well founded, he put it to him if such inattention on the part of this House could have occurred? He could assure his hon. Friend that Her Majesty's Government had as sincerely at heart as he himself had everything that would tend to greater economy and the increased efficiency of the Navy and the dockyards; that they were as anxious as his hon. Friend was to bring the greatest talents and the highest science to bear upon the subject, and to incur no expense of any sort without that full preliminary inquiry which had already been pronounced to be so necessary. As to the re-establishment of the College of Naval Architecture, that was a question of the utmost difficulty. Nothing could be more desirable than to see a greater amount of talent enlisted in the service, than was now to be found in our dockyards. But it would be a most fatal measure if the prospect of regular promotion were checked and clogged by the interposition over the heads of others of a number of young men to fill the higher offices. He seemed to have been much misunderstood the other evening when explaining what the Government hoped to effect by the system they were now pursuing. In the first place, they hoped to get rid of all the gross ignorance which now characterized the apprentices in the dockyards. They had already made arrangements with that object in view; and accordingly they did not admit any boy who was unable to read and write, and had not received the elements of a common education. In every successive year, the most promising youths would he selected, and their education completed at the public expense. All these boys were expected to return to the dockyards on the completion of their education. They would return and be employed as officers, after receiving as much education and scientific knowledge as they could be expected to acquire in the course of two or three years. With regard to Sir William Symonds, there were so many hon. Members who were more intimately connected than he was with the subject, that he would 184 not attempt the vindication of that gallant gentleman from the charges brought against him. He did not say that he was faultless; but he believed that at present he was a very much underrated man. He thought that the expectations which were first formed of him were too great. He was certain, if he might believe the testimony of some of the most experienced men in the profession, that at the outset he did render eminent services to the public. He did great service to the country by the new system of classification, and by simplifying the whole system of masts. But he thought that enough had transpired to render it necessary that they should be cautious in carrying out such vast experiments as that of laying down six new ships on the lines of the Albion; at all events, until the subject was more fairly tested. Yet, with letters like that from Sir W. Parker, and with such high testimonials from officers of the highest standing in the profession, he contended that it was unjust to Sir William Symonds to carp at his ships as devoid of merit, and as unfit to cope with an enemy. All he could further say was, that the greatest caution should be exercised in all their future operations, and that no plans or drawings should be sanctioned without being first submitted to the Committee of Construction and the Surveyor. In conclusion, the hon. Gentleman assured Mr. Hume of the desire of the Board of Admiralty to economize the expenditure and improve the efficiency of the Navy; but he could not consent to the adoption of his hon. Friend's Motion.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
would have gladly left the vindication of naval affairs to the hon. Gentleman the Secretary of the Admiralty, if it had not been for certain parts of the speech of the hon. Member who introduced this Motion, and which naturally required some observations on his part. The hon. Member said he had refreshed his memory that morning by referring to a debate which had taken place fifteen years ago. He (Sir J. Graham) had had no such opportunity of referring to Hansard; and the reference made by the hon. Member to that period had excited some melancholy feelings in his breast. The hon. Gentleman had talked of the hand of the destroyer; and it was too true that the hand of the destroyer had been busy among those who took part in the debates to which the hon. Member had alluded. The hon. Gentleman had mentioned—in terms which, upon deliberation, he thought he would re- 185 gret—the name of an excellent officer, of unsullied reputation, Mr. Hawkes, who was master shipwright of Plymouth dockyard in 1845, and who, the hon. Member alleged, had prepared a report calculated to mislead the House. That officer died some years ago, with a reputation as pure and unsullied as any Member of that House could boast; and till that moment he had never heard any allegation reflecting either upon his public conduct or his private honour. This was one of the disadvantages of discussing matters of this kind after the lapse of a considerable time. He entirely agreed with the hon. Gentleman, that this was a subject peculiarly fitted for the consideration of the. British Parliament. It was the boast of this country that it possessed the most skilful seamen in the world; and he thought it was due to the character of those seamen that they should sail in the strongest, the best constructed, and the best adapted ships of war that skill, talent, and experience could produce. He did not hesitate at once to admit that he was responsible for the appointment of Sir W. Symonds, some fifteen years ago, to the situation of Surveyor of the Navy. He made that appointment deliberately, after consulting his naval advisers, and after using every precaution he could take with reference to the selection of a fit and proper person for the office. The hon. Gentleman had told the House that he (Sir J. Graham) had declared, during the debates to which reference had been made, that science was not the quality necessary to constitute a good and fit Surveyor of the Navy. Now, he thought the hon. Gentleman had, though unintentionally, misrepresented what he (Sir J. Graham) said on that occasion. He then said, and he still entertained the opinion, that abstract science alone was not the qualification which fitted a man for the appointment of Surveyor of the Navy. He thought that, in making a selection for so important an office, naval experience, combined with science, was the qualification which ought really to be sought. The hon. Gentleman had assumed that Captain Symonds was destitute of acquaintance with the first principles of science. He did not think that any Member of the House would question the naval skill of that gallant officer; for, among competent sailors, Sir W. Symonds would be admitted to be a most skilful officer. With reference to shipbuilding, Sir W. Symonds, even before he was appointed Surveyor of the 186 Navy, had directed his attention in a very great degree to the art of construction. He had every reason to believe that that gallant officer possessed a considerable acquaintance with the art of shipbuilding; and that knowledge, combined with his nautical skill and general sagacity and ability, rendered that gallant officer worthy of the position to which he had ventured to appoint him. But before he proceeded to discuss the merits or demerits of Captain Symonds, he might recall the attention of the House to one observation which fell from the hon. Member for Montrose. That hon. Gentleman said, that he thought they ought to exercise great caution in relating what they heard on this subject. He must be permitted to add, that an equal caution was necessary in believing what they heard. He must say that, excepting on matters of religion, he did not know that any difference of opinion had been attended with so much bitterness—so much anger—so much resentment—as this question with regard to the merits of Captain Symonds, and the virtues of his ships. Unfortunately, the most angry—he had almost said malicious—controversy was carried on throughout the profession on this subject. He would now refer to an incidental question to which the hon. Gentleman had alluded—he meant the step taken by himself, in concert with the Board of Admiralty, of which he was a Member, with respect to the School of Naval Architecture. The expense of that establishment, which had been instituted some time before he had a seat at the Board of Admiralty, had been very great; and the fruit produced by it had, at that period, been very small. It was his opinion, and that of the board of which he was a member, that, upon the whole, the cost of the School of Naval Architecture greatly exceeded any benefit which could reasonably be expected from its continuance. The hon. Member opposite had objected to the abolition of a number of lucrative offices in the dockyards, and had said he considered that measure a hardship, because they constituted the prizes and premiums to which pupils in the School of Naval Architecture aspired. If those offices were really necessary, undoubtedly they ought to have been continued; but if they were of the nature of sinecures—if they were impediments to the working of a good system in the dockyards—then he said, it was his bounden duty to abolish those offices, although he might thereby diminish the 187 premiums which were offered to successful students in the school. In revising the whole system of the dockyards, he came to the conclusion that a great number of the offices alluded to by the hon. Member were unnecessary; and as those offices were such as were destined as the rewards for the gentlemen who were students at the Naval School of Architecture, it appeared to him, that if he abolished them, it would be the better course, prospectively, to abolish the school itself, especially as he certainly did not anticipate much benefit from it. Then the question arose, was this abolition, prospectively, inconsistent with good faith and fair treatment towards those who had at that time entered the school, and who had done so with bright prospects? He was not aware that any act of his, after that school was abolished, was tainted with the least shade of injustice to any of those individuals. Next to the office of Surveyor of the Navy, the most important office in the dockyards which any person in course of promotion could attain was that of master shipwright. Who was the master shipwright at Portsmouth? Mr. Fincham, who had been a lecturer at the School of Naval Architecture. The master shipwright at Pembroke was Mr. Abetel, and at Cha-tam Mr. Laing, who had been students in that school. Who was at the head of the machinery department at Woolwich—the most lucrative office next to that of Surveyor of the Navy? Mr. Lloyd, who had been a student in the School of Naval Architecture. An important appointment at Portsmouth had also been conferred on another student of that school. He thought, then, that more than ample justice had been done to those who were students in the school at the time it was abolished. They had received kind and considerate treatment; and he did not think it could be said that they had any ground to complain of injustice at the hands of the Executive Government. He would now refer to the question as to the merits of Sir W. Symonds. He understood the hon. Member for Montrose to say, that he considered that foreign nations had made greater improvements in the construction of ships than we had done. He admitted, that at the close of the last war all the best ships in our Navy were either captured French ships, or ships which had been built on French models. The Canopus, which had been sent to sea with the line-of-battle ships in the recent trials, was a French ship of the highest character, and at the close 188 of the war was superior to any ship built in our own dockyards upon French lines: but the Canopus, in the experimental squadron, was inferior in every essential point to the line-of-battle ships built on the lines of Sir W. Symonds. He had had no opportunity of referring to the books which contained a record of the trials; but he was quite content that the issue between the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hume) and himself on this point should be tried by the success or failure of the Vernon. The hon. Member had stated that he understood that, in her first cruise, the headrail of the Vernon was washed away; but he (Sir J. Graham) was much mistaken if, with a head sea and a press of canvass, that was any remarkable occurrence. Of this, he was sure, that no science, with or without nautical skill, would produce a fast-sailing ship which would not be a wet ship under press of sail, and which would not occasionally pitch deep. The Vernon, on her first cruise, was commanded by Sir F. Collier, whom he (Sir J. Graham) selected for that command by the advice of Sir T. Hardy, as an officer of undoubted merit, of first-rate reputation, an admirable sailor, and a most competent person to form a just opinion of the qualities of the ship. The issue between his hon. Friend (Mr. Hume) and himself, then, as to the propriety or impropriety of the selection of Sir W. Symonds, was placed upon the success of the Vernon. [Mr. HUME: I alluded to Sir G. Cock-burn's report.] He had not access to Sir G. Cockburn's report; but he held in his hand the report of Sir F. Collier, which was in these terms:—Her Majesty's ship Vernon, at Sea,Sept. 17, 1833.In compliance with your directions to report to you my opinion of the qualities of Her Majesty's ship Vernon, under my command, I have to state, that she stows infinitely more and better than I had anticipated. She stands well up to her sail, better than any vessel I ever saw, and is the easiest ship I ever was at sea in against a heavy head sea. She sometimes pitched deep, but so very easy that not a ropeyard could be strained. She rolls perfectly easy in working. She is the handiest ship I ever was in; and, in wearing, she quite surpassed my most sanguine expectations. Take the ship altogether, I think her quite perfection. I shall forbear making any observations as to her sailing qualities; you have witnessed her superiority.So much with respect to the Vernon. Now what were the other ships mentioned as proofs of the entire failure of Sir W. Symonds as to construction? With respect to the Queen, one of the ships re- 189 ferred to, the hon. Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. Ward) had read the report of Sir W. Parker, in a confidential letter, addressed he (Sir J. Graham) believed, to the Earl of Auckland. With regard to the Vanguard, he held in his hand the report of an officer now no more, but than whom, it would be admitted, there could be no higher authority upon the questions of sailing—he alluded to Sir C. Paget. That gallant officer wrote as follows:—Bellerophon, September 18.I feel much pleasure in telling you that the Vanguard is in every respect much improved by the further reduction of ballast, and that her superiority upon all points of sailing, since we last left Plymouth, has greatly distinguished her. If the Bellerophon and Pembroke may be considered, as I really believe they fairly may be, above the average in sailing of our ships of the line, I am persuaded the Vanguard will be found to be a clipper wherever she goes amongst others of her class. In short, I am in admiration of her, and, though the Bellerophon is not at her best, my friend Captain Jackson frankly admits the Vanguard's great superiority.He (Sir J. Graham) was told that Sir R. Stopford, when he commanded the fleet in which the hon. and gallant Officer near him (Sir C. Napier) so much distinguished himself, spoke in high terms of the powers of the Vanguard in going to windward. The Collingwood had rounded Cape Horn and had been tried in every way, and the gallant officer, Sir George Seymour, by whom she was commanded, had reported to the Admiralty in high terms of her merits. This he must state, that Sir W. Symonds, appointed by him in 1832, had served under five or six Boards of Admiralty, composed of different officers, with different prejudices and predilections; and, on the whole, they had not thought him unworthy of the high situation in which he had been placed; but, by retaining him in that situation, they had collectively and individually shared the responsibility of his original appointment. He begged to remind the House that such officers as Sir G. Seymour, Sir W. Parker, Admiral Hyde Parker, Admiral Bowles, and the hon. and gallant Member near him, had all tried and reported upon the ships of the Surveyor of the Navy; and if the whole of these reports were produced, he was greatly deceived if they would not form a mass of conclusive evidence in favour of that gallant officer (Sir W. Symonds), whose character was so often assailed, and, as he thought, with so much injustice and asperity. He must tell the House, what he had frequently told Sir W. Symonds, that he had always considered it a great 190 misfortune attendant even upon the adoption of a well-considered theory, that the person who propounded it frequently clung to it with too much tenacity, and was indisposed to correct the defects discovered by experience in carrying it into execution. He had always entreated Sir W. Symonds to listen with attention, and without the slightest feeling of anger, to the representations of any defects which fair trial and experience might prove to exist in his ships. He (Sir J. Graham) was satisfied, that if Sir W. Symonds would supply corrections of such acknowledged defects, there was in his theory itself much of wisdom and excellence, which, even as matters now stood, had led to the improved construction of ships of war in this country; and all those who had latterly built ships of improved construction had, in the main, adopted the principle of Sir W. Symonds. What were the great defects of our old ships of war? He was almost ashamed, in his present position, to give an opinion as to what those defects were; but he remembered opinions on this subject which he had heard expressed by naval authorities both living and deceased, upon whose knowledge he could place implicit reliance, and he might, therefore, venture to state what he believed those defects to be. They were, he considered, insufficiency of beam and the consequent want of stability. To those defects Sir W. Symonds applied a decided corrective; he gave increased width of beam and increased stability and power of carrying sail. To these great improvements Sir W. Symonds had undoubtedly sacrificed other advantages; but many of the imperfections in his system of construction had been corrected; and he (Sir J. Graham) believed it was possible to correct them all. Who, then, had been the gainers by these improvements in shipbuilding? The British public. It had been said, that the alterations had been attended with expense; but he could not think that money had been thrown away in trying, during a time of peace, various modes of construction, and, as the result of those experiments, correcting the defects which experience had demonstrated. What were the ships which the noble Lord mentioned as most successful, as contradistinguished from the failures, as be termed it, of the Surveyor of the Navy? One was the ship Inconstant. That was not built by a man of science, a pupil of the School of Naval Architecture. She was built by an admirable naval offi- 191 cer, a man of practical experience, and he would not deny, a man of science to a certain extent. The other ship mentioned by the noble Lord was the Eurydice. That was built according to the plans of Admiral Elliott, a distinguished officer; but he was not aware that he was to be called a man of science as contradistinguished from a naval officer. Undoubtedly he possessed science; but he also possessed that which was the happiest combination—naval skill and experience, conjoined with some science. The cases, therefore, mentioned by the noble Lord, afforded demonstrations of the qualifications which he believed Sir W. Symonds to possess—qualifications calculated to insure excellence in the precise department. Then with regard to the Thetis. That was an improved edition of Sir W. Symonds' ships, with certain admitted faults corrected; and he was persuaded that what he stated would be confirmed by the naval authorities following him in debate. The hon. Gentleman who brought forward the present Motion specified the case of the Rodney, and he exclaimed, "What an extraordinary sum, amounting to 145,000l. had been expended in correcting her faults!" But was she built by Sir W. Symonds? No; she was built by a scientific builder on the lines of the late Sir R. Seppings, a dockyard officer. Again, something had been said with regard to Dr. Inman. He should be extremely sorry to say anything in the least disparaging to that gentleman, or to use any expression which would give him pain. He was at the head of a scientific establishment at Portsmouth, and had, he believed, done good service to the country as an instructor of youth; but as a shipbuilder that gentleman's failures were signal; and he might point to them as a proof that science alone apart from naval skill was not to be relied on. The errors committed in the past, however, were insignificant in comparison with the importance of pursuing a wise course in future in respect to the construction of our fleet; and though he did not, as a temporary expedient, disapprove of that Committee of Reference which had been appointed, yet he warned the Admiralty of the absolute necessity of taking care that under that term no new Navy Board was erected. He had, abolished the Navy Board, because he thought it expedient to establish not only the supreme control but the undivided responsibility of the Board of Admiralty; 192 and in adhering to this principle had met with the approbation of Parliament. He thought the grand principle was, that they should have but one board responsible in all matters, and that that board should be the Board of Admiralty. In that board, whatever might be the political changes of the day, there invariably sat some of the ablest naval officers in the service, competent to form an opinion with respect to naval matters, and whose judgment was entitled to the confidence of the public. The Board of Admiralty consisted of a happy compound. It was not a board exclusively composed of naval officers; hut, mixed with them, were civilians of eminence; the First Lord being a Cabinet Minister, and one other member of the Board being a lay lord. Moreover, the Secretary to the Admiralty generally represented the Board in that House. The Board of Admiralty thus constituted did on the whole form a tribunal to which questions of a mixed nature, both naval and civil, might with the utmost confidence be submitted. He had no political predilections for the present Government; but he might fairly, in illustration of his argument, point to the composition of the present Board of Admiralty. Lord Auckland was the first Lord. That nobleman had, in India, filled the highest civil appointment as Governor General. He was distinguished by a dispassionate, calm, and deliberate judgment, admirable good sense, and by the strictest impartiality. Then there was also on the Board a naval officer of great reputation, Admiral Sir C. Adam. He was known to all sides of the House, and was esteemed and admired as a gallant sailor, and a just man. In the presence of the two gallant Officers opposite (Admiral Dundas and Captain Berkeley) he would not speak of them even as they deserved; but he would say, with respect to Lord John Hay, that there was no officer in the profession whose character would bear closer examination. In this combination, which was to be found in the Board of Admiralty, there were all the materials for deciding on this question of naval construction. The old established rules of the Board were admirable. The lines of every ship laid down in the Navy were submitted to the Board, and no ship could be laid down or built without receiving their sanction; and he should be sorry to see any other authority responsible in the last resort. Then the question presented itself, how should the Board of Admiralty be advised? By one, or, if 193 necessary, by two Surveyors of the Navy. They were the eyes of the Board of Admiralty. He regretted that the present Surveyor of the Navy had devoted too much time and attention to his own immediate department—planning lines, and building ships. He should be the adviser on the plans of others; and when those plans were sanctioned, he should superintend the progress of the works, uninfluenced himself by the prejudices of a builder. He said at once that if Sir W. Symonds did not give satisfaction to the Board of Admiralty, let him be removed; but let them not, on account of this disputed question respecting the Surveyor of the Navy, withdraw from the Admiralty the decision in the last resort on all questions of shipbuilding in the Queen's yards. Those principles which guided him in the abolition of the Navy Board, led him to propose to Parliament a measure for the reconstruction of the Admiralty Departments; and after thirteen years' experience, he believed that if those principles were adhered to, the administration of affairs would be successfully conducted on sound principles. He should do injustice to Sir W. Symonds, if he did not declare that he was an upright and honest man, indefatigable in his department, and only too zealous in his eager desire to serve the public. By his exertions Sir W. Symonds had rendered great service to the country. If he retained the confidence of the Admiralty, let him remain in his situation; or if scientific assistance was thought requisite, conjoin with him some scientific person also possessing the confidence of the Admiralty; but let them not institute a Committee of that House, or any Commission, to contest the judgment of the Board of Admiralty. The matter was plain and simple. The system, as established, was, in the main, correct, and any imperfection was casual, and might be easily remedied. He repeated, that it would be a great misfortune (and no one would more regret it than Sir W. Symonds himself), if on account of any heat or prejudice against him, a lasting injury should be inflicted on what must be deemed the mainstay of the country—our naval superiority and the excellence of the British fleet.
could assure the right hon. Baronet that his warning should not be neglected, and that the present Committee of Reference were only called together to gain their opinion on questions of construction. The House would remember that he had asked the hon. Mem- 194 ber for Montrose what was his authority for the statements which he had made; but the hon. Member had evaded the question, and had not given him any authority. However, in what he was about to state, he would not say one single thing which he could not substantiate by the authority of naval officers, who wore competent to speak on the subject. If one-half or one-third of the charges which the hon. Member had brought forward were true, or had any sort of foundation whatever, then he having been a member of the Admiralty when the Earl of Minto was at the head of it, could not have stood on the floor of the House as a Member of the present Board of Admiralty, because he was sure that he should have lost the confidence of the country. Now let the House look at what Sir W. Symonds had done. He destroyed the ten-gun brigs, and established a class of packets which, as he was informed by the officer at Falmouth, were so popular with passengers, that they used to ask which were Sir W. Symonds' ships before they would attempt to cross the Atlantic. The second class of ships which he built were also excellent ships, those of 26 guns, namely, the Cleopatra, Vestal, and others. He would now take the large class of ships; and he thought it due to Sir W. Symonds to state what the ships were which were built by him. The right hon. Baronet had already stated Sir F. Collier's opinion of the qualities of the Vernon; and he would refer to the same authority, because the hon. Gentleman who had brought this Motion forward had said that we were inferior in every way to the French in shipbuilding. This officer said that "the Vernon was everything that could be wished, and that the French were very much surprised, as well as most people, at the way in which she had behaved and outsailed them." The hon. and gallant Admiral opposite (Sir C. Napier) said, that in a gale of wind the Vanguard, one of the abused ships, was a most lee-wardly vessel. Now, the officer who commanded the Vanguard for nearly four years, said that while he was in command of her, he encountered four gales of wind, or at least what he considered to be such. The first of these was in the Bay of Biscay, the second on the coast of Syria, the third off Alexandria, and the fourth in the Gulf of Lyons. The Vanguard was, when off Alexandria, so heavily loaded, that she was eighteen or twenty inches 195 deeper in the water than her usual trim; yet her commander stated that she weathered the storm nobly, and was the only ship in the squadron which had not sustained considerable injury. This, the House would allow, was saying a good deal. But then the House had been told that these ships were extremely dear. They had been informed that the vessels of Sir W. Symonds strained their rigging, and cost the Government large sums in repairs. When the Vanguard came to Portsmouth, after an absence of nearly four years, Captain Corry, who was going out in the Superb, applied to have the rigging of the Vanguard, instead of having new rigging. This did not look like much loss from straining. He would not weary the House by reading many more letters; but everybody knew that Captain Rous was not in the habit of flattering people. Now that gallant officer wrote to Sir W. Symonds to say, that his—"beautiful ship had had the hardest thumping that anything made of wood or iron ever endured; that they had been striking against a rock for ten mortal hours—and that no other ship could have stood such a trial.That spoke well for the solidity of her construction. It had been stated that Captain Symonds had never built a steamer worth anything; but it happened that he had before him the opinion of an hon. and gallant officer at present belonging to the Board of Admiralty, who was not only a first-rate seaman, but scientifically skilled in shipbuilding; he referred to Lord John Hay. Now, Lord John Hay's opinion of the Gorgon steamer, which was built by Sir W. Symonds, was that she was a very manageable vessel, and a good sea boat with quick motion. Captain Austin said, that the ships of Sir W. Symonds could stand under sail when other ships could not; and Sir John Louis stated, that he saw the Vanguard sail out of Malta harbour when all the rest of the fleet were obliged to be towed out. He thought, therefore, that the Admiralty were perfectly justified when Lord Minto was at the head of it in allowing Sir W. Symonds to build ships; and though he might have carried his principle too far, he had struck out a new and valuable system, the result of which was that no other country could have better ships than we had. He could assure the House that the present Admiralty would carry out what had been begun by their predecessors, and pay every attention to shipbuilding.
§ SIR C. NAPIER
said, that it appeared to him that the whole time of the House had been taken up to-night by attacks upon, and exculpations of, Sir William Symonds, and that they had lost sight entirely of the Motion of his hon. Friend, which related to the waste of the public money by the building of improper ships. He could not go the length of the hon. Member for Montrose in pronouncing a wholesale condemnation upon Sir W. Symonds' ships; and he had told him privately that he thought it would be better if his hon. Friend would restrict himself to some particular points. Sir W. Symonds began with building several small vessels. The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham), he thought injudiciously, allowed Sir W. Symonds to go from small vessels to very large frigates. The result had been praised by some, and condemned by others; and he must say that it was very difficult to get at the truth of the subject. He must admit that Sir Francis Collier, on the first cruise of the Vernon, did give her a very high character indeed; but it was extraordinary that when Sir George Cockburn went out to the West Indies in the Vernon, he complained to the Admiralty of her bad qualities, and the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) substituted another ship, and sent her out to Sir George Cockburn. The Vernon was afterwards commanded by other officers, and when she went out to the Mediterranean, she was tried against the Barham, and he believed that the Barham beat her; but he would say, candidly, that if the same man who commanded the Barham had been put on board the Vernon, that vessel would have beat the Barham. He should now dismiss the Vernon, and go to the Vanguard; and he confessed that when he went to the Mediterranean, and found the Vanguard there, he thought she was one of the finest ships which he had ever seen. Sir Robert Stopford sent him down to Vourla in the command of a squadron of four sail, among which was the Vanguard; but having to beat up four or five hours against a strong breeze, she did not behave well, and was beaten both by the Ganges and the Powerful. With regard to the behaviour of the Vanguard in the gale off Alexandria, it was possible that some mistake might have occurred, because the squadron, when off Alexandria, encountered two gales of wind; and the second, to which he meant to refer, was certainly the severest gale which he 197 ever experienced in his own life. The nest morning, by break of day, upon getting up to see what had become of the squadron, he found that the Vanguard was the most leewardly ship of all. He had never condemned the Vanguard; but he must say that when she was with the experimental squadron she did not do what was expected of her. When he saw her in the Mediterranean, she carried her ports eight feet out of the water; but when with the experimental squadron she was so loaded that her ports were only seven feet and a quarter above the water, and it was clear that she did not sail so well as before. Like almost all Sir W. Symonds' ships, when there was a head sea, and she began to pitch, she could not make way with other vessels. The ships of Sir W. Symonds were not built for bad weather. He must say he was surprised at what had been said on the authority of Sir W. Parker, of the sailing qualities of the Albion. Sir W. Parker was an excellent officer; but he was one of the culprits who protected the shipbuilder, Sir W. Symonds. Besides, when Sir W. Parker commanded the experimental squadron it was summer, and there was smooth water, just the sort of weather for the Surveyor's ships; but what was the opinion of Admiral Hyde Parker, and why did not the Admiralty ask for his report? He was informed that Admiral Hyde Parker made no report; but the Admiralty should have called for one. Admiral Hyde Parker had told him, that after making the signal for the Albion to form in the line to leeward, he was on the point of making the signal for her to come to the wind to save her masts, she rolled so awfully; but on second thoughts he considered it best to let her alone, and see what she could do. Now, Admiral Hyde Parker told this to the Admiralty; and they ought to have sent to the captains of the different ships, and asked them whether it was or was not true that the Albion shipped so much water, that when the other ships kept their ports up, the Albion was obliged to run in her guns and close her ports whilst they were being loaded. He now came to the enormous waste of public money. That waste had not taken place only in Sir William Symonds' time. It had existed ever since he (Sir C. Napier) knew the Navy. He had often read to the House returns of the expenses of altering and cutting down ships, for which the Admiralty, and not Sir W. Symonds, was to blame. When 198 doubts arose as to the Albion, they were assured by Sir G. Cockburn, that orders had been given to stop the construction of ships built on her lines. They were stopped; but the House had never known who it was who gave the orders to begin them again. Was it the Board, or the Secretary of the Admiralty? He asked the question because it was said that the Secretary had done it on his own authority. As to steamboats, he thought the Admiralty were to blame in allowing Sir W. Symonds to go on constructing them, after it had been proved that he had not built a good one. He now came to the Committee of Reference. What good could they get from it? Was it possible that any good could come of such a system as referring the opinion of the Committee to the Surveyor, and of the Surveyor to the Committee? So long as they had a Surveyor of the Navy, if they allowed him to construct ships, they would never have any improvement in naval architecture. Let them introduce into every dockyard the ablest shipbuilders they could find. Let them encourage all builders to send in their lines and designs to the Admiralty. But then there was another difficulty. There were, in reality, two Boards—a public and a private Board of Admiralty, and the real business was carried on after the termination of the business of the public board, in the private room of the senior Lord, the junior Lords knowing absolutely nothing of what was going on. And then again, the constant changes of the Boards prevented anything like improvement. Take the present time. The First Lord might shortly be sent elsewhere, and then they would have to look out for a successor, and to bring in a gentleman most probably totally ignorant of the duties of the office. He might be allowed to say a word about iron vessels. They had gone on building those without making any experiments as to their capabilities of resistance to sea or shot. In America, things were differently managed. There a series of experiments were tried, and the result was, that iron was pronounced not to be a fit material for shipbuilding. When the experiment as to screw steamers was to be tried, no less than four sail of the line were cut down—a very extravagant outlay. On all the grounds, then, which he had urged, he thought there ought to be a Committee, in order to see whether matters could not be better managed at the Admiralty than they had been for the last forty years. He 199 should strenuously support the Motion of his hon. Friend.
would confine his remarks within the narrowest possible compass, and restrict himself to a defence of the Board with which he had been himself connected. The whole conduct of that Board showed that they had unremittingly, and not unsuccessfully, directed their attention to the improvement of shipbuilding. He was satisfied that the Motion of the hon. Gentleman was as unnecessary as his Censure was undeserved. He believed he spoke the general opinion when he said that Captain Symonds had rendered great and important services—had broken through the trammels of ancient prejudice—and had introduced various classes of vessels which were an improvement on the old construction. At the same time it was the general opinion of that Board that his system was not without its imperfections, and that his vessels, particularly those of a larger class, required to be tested before the principle on which they were built was generally adopted. With that view the Admiralty determined to test the quality of the ships both as to their power of sailing and carrying guns. They, therefore, appointed the squadron to sail on an experimental trip in 1844; but the result threw very little light on the question—what was the best principle on which ships could be built? because it turned out that vessels of a totally opposite principle of construction were found to be on a perfect equality as to their sailing powers. His hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ripon then proposed that for the purpose of aiding the Admiralty in this branch of their duties a committee should be appointed consisting of one gentleman of high scientific attainments, another practically skilled in shipbuilding, and a third a naval officer. This committee acted on perfectly independent views; and the Admiralty could not in his opinion have adopted any course more likely to secure the object of the hon. Member for Montrose thrn its appointments. It was the fashion to cry down the Surveyor's ships as though they were good for nothing; but the House would find on referring to the official reports made to the Board of Admiralty that distinguished officers in the naval service gave a very different account of them. In attestation of the truth of this assertion, he would take leave to read some passages from the report in question. The hon. Member read extracts from the reports of the officers 200 who were in command of the experimental squadron, in which was found the general statement that the Queen, the Albion, and other vessels of that class, were excellent ships, and acquitted themselves most creditably. The general result of all the reports made to the Board was to attest the superiority of the Surveyor's ships; at sea the only fault that could be alleged against them being that they were subject to a quick rolling motion. The new ships were not worthy of the sweeping condemnation dealt against them; nor were the old ships entitled to all the commendation bestowed upon them. He did not think that the Board of Admiralty were liable to the charge of having squandered the public money in ordering the works of the Surveyor's ships to be resumed, for they had only done so in compliance with the official reports and recommendations which were presented to them. He disclaimed the charge of having on his own responsibility ordered the works on those vessels to be resumed. He had not done so without the entire concurrence and the full authority of the Board. With respect to the four steam guard-ships, they were altered not rashly nor inconsiderately, but in compliance with the recommendations contained in the report of the Commission appointed to inquire into the best way to defend the dockyards. The late Government had applied the public money the best way they could; and they had, at all events, the satisfaction of knowing that they had handed over the Navy to their successors in a fit state to defend the interests and honour of the country.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 13; Noes 66: Majority 53.
|List of the AYES.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Napier, Sir C.|
|Cavendish, hon. G. H.||Pechell, Capt.|
|Colville, C. R.||Perfect, R.|
|Duncan, G.||Rashleigh, W.|
|Etwall, R.||Yorke, H. R.|
|Heneage, E.||Hume, J.|
|Henley, J. W.||Ingestre, Visct.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Armstrong, Sir A.||Baine, W.|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||Bennet, P.|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.|
|Borthwick, P.||Martin, C. W.|
|Bowles, Adm.||Masterman, J.|
|Brotherton, J.||Monahan, J. H.|
|Bunbury, W. M.||Morris, D.|
|Carew, W. H. P.||Nicholl, rt. hon. J.|
|Conyngham, Lord A.||O'Brien, T.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H.||Parker, J.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Price, Sir R.|
|Craig, W. G.||Rice, E. R.|
|Cripps, W.||Rich, H.|
|Dalmeny, Lord||Ross, D. R.|
|Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.||Rumbold, C. E.|
|Dundas, Adm.||Rutherford, A.|
|Dundas, Sir D.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Escott, B.||Seymour, Sir H. B.|
|Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.||Smith, J. A.|
|Gladstone, Capt.||Somerville, Sir W. M.|
|Gore, hon. R.||Stanley, hon. W. O.|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Stanton, W. H.|
|Harris, hon. Capt.||Strutt, rt. hon, E.|
|Hastie, A.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Hawes, B.||Thompson, Ald.|
|Hay, Sir A. L.||Thornely, T.|
|Herbert, rt. hon. S.||Trollope, Sir J.|
|Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Howard, Sir R.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Hudson, G.||Ward, H. G.|
|Jervis, Sir J.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Layard, Major||Wyse, T.|
|Macaulay, rt. hon. T. B.||TELLERS.|
|Maitland, T.||Hill, Lord M.|
|Martin, J.||Tufnell, H.|
§ House adjourned at a quarter past One o'clock.