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The Grand Naval Review
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From The Illustrated London News, 26 April 1856.
THE GREAT NAVAL REVIEW AT SPITHEAD
(From our special correspondent)
Portsmouth, Tuesday evening.
FAMILIAR for the past two years with the story of naval and military achievements, we close the period of a successful war by the exhibition of our unimpaired strength, and splendid training. Never at any period of our history have we been able, even at the outbreak of a war, to boast of a fleet as powerful in numbers and metal as that which floats at Spithead. Such a mighty gathering of first-rates and gun-boats may not for years again be witnessed in these waters; and the rehearsal for the benefit of peaceful spectators of a few mimic episodes in real warfare is an appropriate termination to the series of sterner and more dangerous actions in which the English have lately been engaged.
The people who met in 1854 and 1855 to cheer our gallant sailors to their duty again assemble to cheer them for its performance. Peace has come, and with it - at least for the present - the naval and military labours of the country end. Animated with this sentiment, countless numbers have thronged to Portsmouth, and fill its houses, mingling together in a ceaseless hum the accents of Hampshire and those of distant towns and places. In the same proportion as the fleet of 1856 exceeds that of Lord Howe in 1791, so the number of spectators now exceeds that of seventy-five years since. It was then considered a splendid effort to bring together a single line of ships extending for five miles - from Stokes Bay to Spithead; now we have a double line, stretching from off Lee Point to the Nab whilst hundreds of gun-boats, floating-batteries, and mortar-vessels crown the outer spaces off Ryde and Portsmouth.
On Saturday, after some days spent in evolutions of a preparatory nature, the fleet anchored in a stately line, with the Duke of Wellington at its head, bearing the Admiral's ensign. The Rodney and London had already taken up their positions near the Nab, as pivot-ships, round which the fleet was to sail. In the open spaces, between the two divisions, the water was sprinkled with boats carrying spectators; steamers filled with visitors steering like pigmies through their colossal sisters; gun-boats puffing like locomotive engines; whilst in a mass off Ryde lay a host of craft forming clumps, with their masts relieved in yellow on the houses and trees of the town. At no great distance off Southsea Castle lay the heavy forms of the floating batteries, rising and falling on the swell like whales; and stretching from their vicinity far away past Monckton towards Browndown were the heavy round hulls of the mortar-vessels, reposing in a sort of grim, grey rest, that seemed to have its attractions. The sun shone brightly on the white walls of Sonthsea Castle, with its tower soaring above the low embankments, bristling with guns, on the varied crowd which covered the esplanade, and on the green embrasures of the main defences. The Sallyport and Blockhouse, the long line of white which joins Fort Monckton to the latter, contrasted but feebly with the pale green water; and the entrance to the harbour was thronged with boats, some of which, filled with merry, bearded faces, were carrying liberty-men from the ships of war to the shore; others were crowded and laden to the thwarts with curious spectators anxious to gain a view from the water. Passenger steamers, gun boats, and tenders to the fleet, were perpetually passing in and out of harbour, bewildering the eye by the rapidity of their motion and the quick succession of their numbers.
Visitors, numerous enough on Saturday, increased on Sunday, the weather favouring those who came down by the railways from London or elsewhere. Streaming down the streets of the town, curiously viewing the great guns in the embrasures, and peering into their muzzles, they were not induced to pause long before these curiosities; but, rushing to the piers, invaded the steamers which left the quays swaying to and fro with their loads in an alarming manner. Numbers, unable to reach the steamers, or afraid of the crush, loitered about the walls, or peeped at the fleet through the embrasures; or, following in a gentle sort of stream from James's-gate, spread themselves over Southsea Common, and walked up the Clarence Esplanade. Awful in our view as were the two statues of Wellington and Nelson decorating the entrance to this favourite walk, we did not find the mass much disgusted by the enormities here committed in the shape of sculpture - their object, the "cynosure of every eye," was the fleet. From every seaport - great or small - that intervenes between Deal and Portsmouth, strange boats had arrived, and offered their varied attractions to the lieges with unceasing pertinacity and noise. The lugger from Ramsgate and cutter from Brighton competed with Portsmouth wherries for the holiday traffic - all sharing in it alike. Whilst liberty-sailors, too glad to be ashore, disported themselves in the taverns of the town, filled the Hard and neighbouring streets; foreigners in their peculiar costumes, with bags slung round them, rushed away to the shore, mingled with the cooler and more phlegmatic people around them, and contended with obdurate boatmen for a reduction of their exorbitant demands. The day was fine and the fleet motionless; a slight breeze rippled the water and gave it that white sparkle which make artists despair. The Isle of Wight reposed in a pleasant grey haze, and the holiday folk had their enjoyments without stint.
On Monday again the scene changed. In the morning all Portsmouth was in motion. Sailors in various phases of oblivion or jollity were to go back to their ships; they covered the Hard and quays, forming picturesque and perpetually-changing groups. But as the day wore on these gradually thinned and disappeared, leaving the streets to the busy of every class. There was not a boat in Portsmouth harbour that had not its repairs or adornment to be seen to. Floating things which had found no employment for months were likely to do so now, and their owners were everywhere seen washing, painting, and tarring or mending, patching, and cutting them. The walls were covered with advertisements of vessels preparing to follow the fleet in its evolutions, at charges varying from ten shillings to four guineas. Yachts were for sale or to be let, houses were at the disposal of the highest bidder, and £50 was a modest price for two nights' lodging for a family of three. It is almost needless to say that the usual accommodation to travellers in the shape of hotels and taverns had long been pre-engaged and taken; those who trusted to chance to find a bed being woefully disappointed in the endeavour to discover a resting-place. Every officer in the great fleet lying at Spithead had asked his friends in far greater number than the ships could give room for. Some had twenty, some thirty; others - the lucky ones - less. Fortunately the Admiralty stepped in, and, limiting gun-room officers to about 80-95ths of a visitor each, no doubt cast consternation throughout more than one family circle at a distance. In the midst of all the noise of preparation fresh streams of pleasure-seekers came in hourly, and gave the streets an unusually crowded appearance. A deputation of French officers, recently arrived in the Duchayla, and headed by Admiral Jurien de la Gravière, landed during the day, and added their glittering uniforms, cocked hats, and aiguillettes to the motley mass which already variegated the streets. The Lieutenant-Governor thought it a fit occasion to have a field day; and the troops, both of the regular and militia regiments, performed a series of evolutions on the common at Southsea. The day being pure and cloudless, like the last, rendered the positions of the ships in the fleet easily distinguishable. But little movement was, however, visible amongst them. The gun-boats alone appeared to be under orders to move, and they were observed for a considerable time throwing off their long stripes of steam, and then finally proceeding in the order of their squadrons - Red, White, Blue, and Striped - down the centre of the line formed by the line-of-battle ships, screw-frigates, and sloops-of-war. A great deal of signalling, and a few mishaps, such as lost bowsprits and damaged rigging, were amongst the unavoidable catastrophes.
Although it was generally known, and had been authoritatively announced, that there would be an attack on the Browndown batteries, and the mortar-vessels in front of them, on Southsea Castle and Fort Monckton, it was not distinctly ascertained what might be the manner of the attack, or its detailed features. In them a laudable desire was entertained of giving to the affair as much of the unforeseen as was possible, consistent with preconcerted arrangement. We saw, however, that great preparations were being made for resisting an enemy both at Browndown and Monckton, as well as at Southsea Castle. Supplies of powder had been forwarded in considerable quantities to those three places; and fatigue parties of artillerymen were diligently employed in extracting from the touchholes the chalk which stops them up and preserves the guns, fixing running gear to the carriages, and oiling the interior of the pieces. Ramrods were taken out of store, wads made - in fact, all the preparations required to repel the enemy with vigour. On board the ships so recently returned from encountering a real enemy we need not say such preparations were not required.
In the vicinity of Southsea Castle a grand stand was in course of erection, and seemed somewhat in close proximity to the fort. It served to give the approaching engagement its true theatrical value, by demonstrating to the eye how little danger was really to be apprehended, at the same time affording the best opportunity of a near view to those who were anxious for one.
To-day the morning broke hazily, and the sky became rapidly overcast. A light wind from the east prevailed, and the day was cool. Still there was no sign of rain, and it was anticipated that fine weather would as usual greet the Queen on her arrival at Portsmouth. The South-Western Railway brought such a stream of new-comers into the town that the streets were filled with people many of whom being strangers appeared totally at a loss how to spend the night, on account of the difficulty of finding lodgings. Tired groups might be seen wandering from street to street, followed by carpet-bags, and making fruitless attempts at admittance to various houses where the prices of a night's rest seemed too exorbitant for any but millionaires. The beach near the Esplanade was crowded with numerous fresh crews of pleasure-boats from Deal and Southampton; and these little vessels at anchor near the shore formed by themselves a small forest of masts. Booths and tents sprang up in all directions on the Common; and two stands, in addition to that which had first been planned near Southsea Castle, arose as if by enchantment - one of them to the eastward of the fort, the other in rear of the large one already mentioned.
The fleet had not in the mean while made any alterations in its movements, if we except the withdrawal of the Meander from Stokes Bay where she had lain - the general belief being until now that she would form one of the points of attack by the gun-boat flotilla. During the day the latter again went through some evolutions, and passed up the lines of the fleet. The ships to-morrow are, it is said, to have six rounds a gun.
The day fixed for the grand celebration broke in the brightest and most auspicious manner. It was a cold, grey, silvery dawn that threw every part of the vast scene into a misty tone, increasing the distance of distant objects, and causing the Isle of Wight to assume a pale and dim aspect.
The masses of people of every class which had assembled in Portsmouth had begun early to throng the places where the best view could be gained of the scene. Those who had slept soundly in the various beds furnished by the inhabitants of Portsmouth and the surrounding places; those who had slept less comfortably on chairs and tables at the rate of ten shillings each; those who had not slept at all - and they were the majority - streamed out of Portsmouth towards Southsea Common on the one hand and Gosport Common the other. On the esplanade the boats of every harbour for upwards of a hundred miles on each side of the coast, and many from distant French ports, contended for the favour of the multitude, gaily dressed out in colours, and sails set in readiness for motion. The masses, however, attracted by the idea of an attack on Southsea Castle, took up their positions on the glacis of the works, which they soon covered, leaving not a particle of the white stone forming it unoccupied by their moving bodies. Round and round this centre of attraction crowds moved about and fluttered, the esplanade gradually losing its hue of white for the dark one of the circulating crowd. The grand stand remained for a long time comparatively empty, but many others were filled at an early hour with many people. A careful guard was set over the green earthworks that cover the outer bastions, so that they retained their brightness unsullied by the contact of human feet, and preserved on a distant view the contrasts between budding and luxuriant grass and the weather-beaten towers and steeples that rise at intervals above the low level of the works. In the harbour, the piers crowded with anxious forms desirous of joining the vessels destined for them contended and jostled with each other without ceasing. As each gaily-decorated boat received its complement of people it left the shore and steamed out passing on the bubbling waters many a light skiff heavily laden with people, many a heavy collier's boat filled with men and women, many a graceful cutter or fast wherry dancing along merrily under all sail. For all Portsmouth, all London, and even distant parts of England, this was a holiday; and before eleven o'clock Portsmouth and its attendant suburbs presented the picture of a city deserted by all but the aged and infirm, and only a few belated individuals hastening along, vaguely apprehensive of losing some of the sight.
Whilst the greater part of the crowds streamed away to Southsea Common, another took the direction of Gosport, and, covering the decks of the floating-bridge with its numbers, glided into the sandy level, interspersed with furze bushes and water, which forms the beach between Fort Monckton and Stokes Ray. The neighbourhood of Haslar had also its numbers of spectators, crowded together on foot, in carts on waggons, and every species of accommodation.
The ships lay still as they had remained for a few previous days: the largest men-of-war forming that imposing double column which has already been noticed; the floating batteries and mortar-boats forming a confused line nearer the shore; and the gun-boats in the extreme distance towards Southampton, appearing smaller even than the reality from their distance. The whole dressed out in lines of flags, forming polygons of colour, gave a gaudy appearance to the surrounding water, already so variegated by moving craft of every sort.
Crossing the harbour to the Blockhouse Fort, where the Hampshire Artillery in all the pride of their best costumes stood in groups betokening disappointment rather than any other sentiment, we emerged upon the green meadows of Haslar, learning to our astonishment that the forts were not to fire any salute. Passing onwards through the crowds which were already formed and momentarily increasing, we entered Fort Monckton, where the Hampshire Militia, under Col. Stretton, was drawn out in fall array. The bastions showed signs of recent preparation; but, strangely enough, were unmanned by gunners. From Fort Monckton the view extended over every part of the fleet, commanding the egress from the harbour, the esplanade and castle of Southsea, the confused forest of masts and flags marking the position of the floating batteries and mortar-vessels - the line of first-rates stretching up from the vicinity of the Nab to that of Cowes - the flotilla of gun-boats, and all the attendant shipping that covered the waters in every direction. Sunken low on the shore of the point known as Gilkicker, Fort Monckton is surrounded by a ditch, has a large earthwork in its north-western front, and crosses fire with Blockhouse Fort close by. It carries forty long 68 and 32 pounders. West of it are the new batteries of Browndown, all armed with very heavy ordnance, where it was supposed that an attack was intended similar to those arranged against Southsea Castle and Fort Monckton. All the ships in the fleet began early to get up steam, and their white funnels were everywhere vomiting out their volume of vapour before any signs of the Royal party were given. Many of the steamers and pleasure-boats had already taken up a position to windward of the starboard line, before any signs of motion were visible in the neighbourhood of the dockyard. At half-past eleven, however, a Royal salute from the old Victory, and the yards of that veteran liner manned with the blue forms of our sailors, proclaimed the arrival of the Queen; and then there was a hush, during which all eyes were turned towards the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour. The tall masts bearing the Royal standard were seen swiftly gliding down the waters, and then as the noble yacht, filled with its Royal freight, emerged from the space between the Blockhouse and the Round Tower, a cheer came rolling to us over the waters proclaiming the joy of the crowds around us looking on at the ceremony. Behind the Queen's yacht followed numerous vessels - the Fairy, Elfin, a steam-frigate of large proportions, the Chanticleer, and others, about thirty in number.
The Foreign Ministers were afloat in the elegant Admiralty steamyacht Vivid. The House of Peers had the Transit; the House of Commons was on board that most unlucky of ships the Perseverance - many members of the Lower House were in the Porcupine. The Board of Admiralty dashed about in their fine yachts Black Eagle and Princess Alice; while the Port Admiral and the Governor of Portsmouth were cruising slowly along in the Fire Queen. Besides these Government vessels there were the Avon, the Wildfire, Sprightly, Vulcan, Himalaya, Driver, Megaera, Prometheus, Otter, Pigmy, &c., all with large parties of fashionable visitors on board. But, though these men-of-war were (some of them at least) smart vessels, they were now eclipsed by the magnificent fleet sent out by the various great companies, Of the Peninsular and Oriental Company there were the Euxine, Ripon, Sultan, Simla, Manilla, and Alma - the last with a party of the directors on board. The West India Mail Company turned oat such leviathans as the Atrato, La Plata, Tay, and Trent. The Indian and the Pacific were also among the colossal merchantmen; and the steamers Vivid, Garland, and Imperatrice, though not among the largest, were certainly among the fastest present.
As the Royal yacht steamed past the walls the saluting battery fired in her honour, and then the people in the embrasures of the forts, on the slopes of the esplanade from Portsmouth to Southsea, from Blockhouse Fort to Monckton, crowded together to watch her. As she glided past the shore and the glacis of the castle, past the stands and sailing vessels filled with crowds congregated there in masses, cheers burst from them and filled the air, sounds of music then came stealing over the water from the ships to the shore, and added another feature of harmony to the scene. The approach to the Spit Buoy was marked by breathless expectation shown in every face turned anxiously towards the fast-sailing yacht and her attendant steamers. As she rounded the buoy and dashed out into the open water of Spithead, a scene of apparent momentary confusion was noticeable throughout the whole fleet. Dark blue masses rushed up rigging, gliding like wild cats till the very Royal yards were manned with human forms. At the same moment the fleet gave forth their salute - their guns roaring out from deck to deck, from ship to ship - until the air, was obscured by the smoke and the fleet was involved in a cloud of vapour. Each vessel, at first partially darkened, then veiled up to the highest truck of its tapering masts, offered a beautiful sight, only equalled in diversity of effect by the partial rolling off of the mist, as the flaws of wind rent and played through them, revealing here a portion of a hull, there some dim tracery of mast and rigging, until finally through a silvery haze the whole fleet again burst into view. The blue jackets mingling their colours with the gaudy hues of the bunting, gave a pretty effect, combining straight lines of spars and rigging with fluttering prismatic tints. As the Queen then proceeded rapidly past between the Starboard line and the Mortar Squadron, thousands of voices cheered and hurraed, bands of music threw out tones that grew mellow as they stole along the waters, and the attendant shipping and spectators joined in the pleasing demonstration.
The Queen's yacht, emerging from the surrounding smoke, proceeded rapidly past Fort Monckton, meeting everywhere the same enthusiastic reception, and, having rounded into a position to return down the centre line, entered the squadron of gun-boats, disposed in double rows on each side of her course, and majestically proceeded on her way. She glided past the small vessels of the flotilla, passed steam-frigates of various strength and speed, passed the giant screw line-of-battle ships, till she reached the Duke of Wellington, greeted in all directions by the most enthusiastic cheers. Whilst she paused the gun-boat flotilla had got under way, and was slowly advancing against the tide in double column, the Red and White leading. The manner in which each tiny vessel kept her position and distance, the orderly manner in which each of them weighed anchor, was deserving of the utmost praise. The thin streaks of steam that issued from their high-pressure boilers showed clear against the sides of the ships through whose lines they passed, and added another to the numerous pictorial effects so remarkable during the day. Some time elapsed during the performance of this portion of the day's proceedings, on account as much of the number of gun-boats that had to weigh anchor as because of the comparatively slow speed of the vessels working against the tide. The Queen had paused at the end of the line and remained stationary, when the foremost gun-boats of the Red and White Squadrons were observed to round again and proceed - the first to starboard, the second to port, in the opposite direction to that which they had been taking. Their intricate lines of opposite motion in the midst of the two rows of stationary men-of-war were extremely curious and interesting, giving an appearance of mechanical regularity to the scene which was highly pleasing.
The head of the White Division having anchored abreast of Fort Monckton, the remaining ships of that denomination formed an imposing front of attack against the gun-boats and floating batteries moored parallel to them. These, lolling like porpoises in the water as it was lashed into waves by the screws of their opponents, seemed silently and somewhat contemptuously to look on the preparations made against them. The Red squadron, having sailed up on the other side of the double row of first-rates, was seen taking up a position opposite Browndown, supported by the Light, which followed at its heels. At the same moment the Blue squadron made its way in the direction of Southsea Castle, and anchored in line before that work. Undismayed at these hostile preparations, the people who covered the glacis and the numerous boats that plied between the castle and the attacking force seemed rather fixed in their intentions to remain than to have any idea of retreat. It was obvious that they anticipated the disappointment which was about to ensue.
The Light and Blue divisions had not had time to complete their line of attack before we observed the Duke of Wellington divesting its masts of the flags with which it had hitherto been dressed. With the speed of lightning every ship followed its example. Fold upon fold of bunting was lowered from view, and slowly the anchors having tripped were weighed, and the grand line of men-of-war began, at first imperceptibly, but instantly after with majestic solemnity, to move in the direction of the Nab. This was the noblest sight of the day. The large broad hulls of the largest ships in the world moving in this orderly manner, apparently thorough a mass of smaller craft, whose tiny forms and filmy white streaks of steam everywhere dotted the water, the large tall spars and rigging overtopping the horizon and every smaller object, were splendid in the contrasts which they afforded.
At the head of this imposing squadron was the Duke of Wellington, her 131 ports shining in the sun, which showed her chequered sides, bright with paint. Behind her the Orion, the James Watt (one of the most perfect specimens of modern naval architecture), the Majestic, the Exmouth, Colossus, Brunswick, Edinburgh, Hogue, Blenheim, Russell, and a long list of screw-frigates, corvettes, and paddle-wheel vessels. Abreast of the Port line the Royal George led the Starboard, gigantic in proportions as the Duke, if not as elegant in form. Then came the Nile, the Conqueror - superior in most respects to such competitors, noble as they were, as the Algiers, St. Jean d'Acre, and Agamemnon - the Cressy, Caesar - almost as large at the stern as a 130-gun ship - the Algiers, the lumbering Sanspareil of Balaclava celebrity, the Centurion, Ajax, Hawke, Hastings, and others which we have not space to mention.
The order having been given to steam at five miles an hour, the double column, under the orders of Admiral Sir R. Dundas and Rear-Admiral Baynes, was slow in receding from our view; but it was lost in the smoke and steam of its own creating for some time before the Royal yacht was seen again to emerge from the confused and intricate mass of ships on the horizon. Her masts, distinct from the rest by their tall and tapering forms capped by the heavy folds of the Royal standard, were first visible, and then the hull appeared as she sailed rapidly up to a station near the centre of the intended attacks on Southsea, Browndown, and the gun-boats and mortar-vessels. Then, at a signal from the Admiral, the attack was ordered to commence. The bunting in answer was scarcely down from each tiny masthead when a tremendous cannonade commenced. The Blue Squadron opened on Southsea Castle with tremendous roar, heavy guns replying to heavy guns, the sounds of which reverberated through the air with unceasing din. The White Division opened on the gun-boats and mortar-vessels with similar vigour and alacrity; whilst the Red and Light blazed unmercifully at Browndown and Monckton. White clouds of smoke receding before the wind enveloped the crowds covering Southsea Castle and glacis; the thousands who filled the beach and common, the grand stands, and carts and booths, were enveloped in wreaths of smoke, which relieved themselves in light on a bank of heavy dark smoke floating in the rear from the funnels of the first-rates then coming up to their anchorages. Over that black bank of smoke again came rushing that of the flotilla, attacking the mortar-vessels, the stream of their steam blowing off, and puffs from their guns mingling together, and obscuring the space through which the tall spars of the Queen's yacht might still be seen, as she took advantage of the attack to make the best of her way homeward. Opposite Monckton Fort and Browndown the effect of the action was 1ess visible, because the ships were not so clustered; but the energies of the crews of the gun-boats were unflagging, so long as their six rounds of ammunition per gun lasted. Whilst, however, with the energy which real action had imparted to our sailors, they hurled their fire at the walls of the Portsmouth defences, those works remained entirely silent in return. The great pivot-guns on the walls, the 32-pounders in the embrasures, were all silent, the ammunition made ready for days previously was not expended, and the soldiers in the redoubts looked on in grim disappointment at the attack, which they were not at liberty to return. The only explanation we obtained of this was that the order to fire had been countermanded at all the forts, in consequence of the discovery that the Lieutenant-Governor of Portsmouth would be obliged to pay for every shot fired on the occasion. A parallel instance cited was that of General Don, at Gibraltar, who on one occasion fired three rounds from several guns, and had to pay for all the ammunition expended.
After about half an hour's firing the whole scene was enveloped in smoke and darkness, leaving nothing to gratify the eye but a heavy mist, impenetrable and choking. Her Majesty had already taken the van and steamed into harbour as the last guns of the attack boomed over the waters. She was speedily followed by all the steamers afloat, whilst at the same time the crowds of spectators wandered home; the fleet meanwhile proceeding to resume the quiescent state at anchor in which we left it.
DEPARTURE OF HER MAJESTY AND THE LORDS AND COMMONS.
The London stations of the South-Western Railway were the scene of great excitement on Wednesday morning. Long before the sun was up the vicinity of the terminus in Waterloo-road was in a commotion, owing to the thousands of persons which literally besieged this place of departure. Trains, each following the other in quick succession, and all apparently surcharged, were dispatched as early as five o'clock. Peers and commoners, regardless each of his position and state, or quality, were there intermingled in one only object - the obtaining a position in the train whereby to be conveyed to the place of embarkation. Coroneted carriages, private phaetons, and numbered cabs were converging to the one common centre. The Waterloo-road, Lambeth, has never presented such an appearance since the opening of the terminus as at four o'clock, owing to the continued arrival of carriages and hackney-cabs. At one time there were upwards of 2000 vehicles of different descriptions at the terminus and along the Waterloo-road; in fact, so crowded was the thoroughfare, that it was impossible for anything like one-half of the carriages to drive into the courtyard of the station. "Noble Lords" and "honourable members," whose train left for Soathampton at seven o'clock, although unused to being thus early astir, had managed to "shake off" their soporific indulgences, and appeared at the prearranged hour. The foreign Ambassadors in official costume excited some degree of admiration and amusement to the bystanders, and one or two of them were received with anything but a courteous reception.
The arrangements made both by the police and railway officials were of so effective a character that, notwithstanding the immense concourse of persons, not the slightest confusion ensued. Ladies and gentlemen, regardless of the danger, never hesitated for a moment in crossing the rails whilst the trains were being made up; but such was the vigilance of the railway authorities, under Mr. Young, the superintendent, and Messrs. Inspectors Narwood, Parker, and Bent, with a powerful body of the L division of police, that no accident took place.
Precisely at five o'clock the first train was started, considerably sooner than the time advertised. This was in reality a "monster train;" but it is only justice to the company to state that none of the carriages contained more than the regular number of persons. In a quarter of an hour afterwards another train, as large as the former, was started, filled with company; and at each succeeding quarter of an hour up to eight o'clock other trains left the terminus. In addition to the above a special train left at 6.45, containing the Cabinet Ministers and Foreign Ambassadors. At seven o'clock another special train, containing the members of the Houses of Peers and Commons, started; and at half-past seven the whole of the Queen's household left in a special train.
It had been arranged that the Royal train should leave by the Nine Elms station; and accordingly, at about half-past eight o'clock, her Majesty, the Prince Consort, and the Royal children, attended by a brilliant retinue, arrived at the Nine Elms Royal private station of the London and South-Western Railway, Vauxhall, at which place the Royal party were received by the directors and other of the company's officials. The Royal train, which was drawn by a powerful engine, named the "Duke," was intrusted to the charge of Mr. G. Anwell, consisting of two state carriages, which left the Nine Elms station at 8.45, and proceeded to Gosport; whence the Royal party, after embarkation, proceeded to Spithead. The news of the safe arrival of the Royal train at its destination, as well as that of each of the other passenger trains dispatched, was forwarded to London by electric telegraph.
Not fewer than 867 carriages, some containing as many as forty passengers each, left the Waterloo station on Tuesday, and during the three hours on Wednesday morning almost as many more left. The receipts of the company for the two days it was stated would exceed £13,000.
THE REVIEW OF THE FLEET AT SPITHEAD BY THE QUEEN.
(From another Correspondent.)
NEVER had Monarch a greater opportunity of witnessing a people's loyalty and devotion than our august and beloved Queen (whom God save!) had on the occasion of her reviewing her mighty and magnificent fleet on Wednesday last. The moment of her Majesty's appearance in the port was a signal for that enthusiasm which is always displayed whenever she is graciously pleased to appear among her subjects. Simultaneous cheers burst from tens of thousands of loyal hearts, showing the hearty welcome of our "Sea Queen" by her delighted people.
The review of such a fleet as the world never before beheld, equipped with an efficiency which all the newest appliances of art and science have enabled us to give to each of these powerful engines of war which composed it, and manned by seamen whose services our vast commercial wealth enables us to command without limit, was most gratifying to all who witnessed it. This gorgeous and truly national pageant was a fitting spectacle in celebration of peace, and one which illustrates the greatness of our triumph, the immensity of our resources, and the solid basis of our strength.
The fleet, as it appeared at anchor on the morning of the review, extending in a line east and west from pivot-ship to pivot-ship, covered a space of more than twelve miles, and comprised, in line-of-battle-ships, frigates, corvettes, sloops, floating batteries, mortar-ships, mortar-boats, and gun-boats, upwards of 240 sail, of which not more than ten were without steam power. There never was a time when the British Navy was more efficient than it is at present. Whatever may have been done in former days by our sailing vessels, however great the deeds they may have achieved, it is clear that for the future they cannot form the chief body of our naval power. It is, indeed, scarcely a question whether they should not be altogether superseded. The employment of steam-ships reduces them (the sailing ones) to the subaltern position of the siege artillery of an army by land. It is true, by the employment of a squadron of steamers a certain object in an expedition may be carried into effect by means of these sailing vessels - namely, when it is necessary to act against a fort or fortified maritime city, which must be destroyed by bringing together a large mass of cannon to bear upon one point. Beyond that no other service can be required of them. Here, again, the same service can be rendered with greater efficacy by the substitution of large steam-vessels like the line-of-battle ships forming part of the present fleet.
Too much credit cannot be given to the various Boards of Admiralty under whose directions the old instruments of the naval power of this country have been discarded, and replaced by other and far more powerful ones. Most assuredly, if anywhere it were desirable to uphold squadrons of sailing vessels, it must have been in the councils of the British Admiralty; but they have listened to the voice of experience, and they have found that sailing vessels become useless when a new power capable of effecting every object in spite of them has entered into competition. We find there is in this fleet alone 230 steam-vessels of all classes, from the powerful three-decker, with her 131 guns and 1100 men, to the small gun-boat of 2 guns and 25 men. But this is not all. To give an idea of the real power of this steam fleet, it is necessary to inspect closely all that its armaments possess of the appropriate and formidable, and with what clever foresight the whole has been studied. The war-steamers of England have not been built for all services indiscriminately; in their construction there has been but one idea, one aim - that of war: they unite with wonderful aptitude to the things peculiarly belonging to the sea - extreme swiftness, powerful artillery, and great space for the occasional conveyance of troops. And yet this armament is indeed formidable, and he who beholds it may truly with the poet exclaim, -
Britannia needs no bulwarks,
No towers along the steep;
Her course is o'er the ocean wave,
Her home is on the deep.
The following is the list of the fleet, with their order of sailing:
|Vice-Admiral Sir G. Seymour, Commander-in-Chief|
|Name of ships||Captains||Guns||Tons||H.P.||Crew|
|Rear-Admiral Sir R. Dundas|
|Name of ships||Captains||Guns||Tons||H.P.||Crew|
|Duke of Wellington||Caldwell||131||3759||700||1100|
|Rear-Admiral R.L. Baynes|
|Forth||Lord John Hay||12||1228||200||200|
|Name of ships||Captains||Guns||Tons||H.P.||Crew|
|Name of ships||Captains||Guns||Tons||H.P.||Crew|
|CENTRE - RED||VAN - WHITE||REAR - BLUE||LIGHT - STRIPED|
Hon. H. Keppel
|Flying Fish, 6||Victor, 6||Intrepid, 6||Surprise, 6|
|Ringdove, 6||Pelter,4||Mohawk, 6||Cheerful, 2|
|Bitter, 4||Thistle, 4||Stork, 4||Daisy, 2|
|Starling, 4||Sandfly, 4||Dapper, 4||Pert, 2|
|Snapper, 4||Plover, 4||Gleaner, 4||Drake, 2|
|Bustard, 4||Carnation, 4||Magpie, 4||Angler, 2|
|Dove, 4||Insolent, 4||Redwing, 4||Pet, 2|
|Leveret, 4||Mayflower, 4||Badger, 4||Rambler, 2|
|Fervent, 4||Spanker, 4||Skipjack, 4||Wanderer, 6|
|Beaver, 4||Traveller, 4||Forward, 4||Chub, 2|
|Opossum, 4||Louisa, 4||Banterer, 4||Onyx, 2|
|Firm, 4||Erne, 4||Haughty, 4||Janus, 2|
|Blazer, 4||Mastiff, 4||Assurance, 6||Ant, 2|
|Brazen, 4||Lively, 4||Procris, 4||Nettle, 2|
|Rainbow, 4||Ruby, 4||Goshawk, 4||Decoy, 2|
|Redbreast, 4||Tickler, 4||Grappler, 4|
|Havock, 4||Seagull, 4||Hyaena, 4|
|Pioneer, 6||Bulldog, 4||Violet, 4|
|Lapwing, 6||Hasty, 4||Weasel, 4|
|Swinger, 4||Herring, 4||Jackdaw, 4|
|Skylark, 4||Griper, 4||Hind, 4|
|Pincher, 4||Trasher, 4||Lark, 4|
|Charger, 4||Julia, 4||Snap, 4|
|Grasshopper, 4||Sepoy, 4||Sheldrake, 4|
|Mackerel, 4||Manly, 4||Cockchafer, 4|
|Forester, 4||Mistletoe, 4||Staunch, 4|
|Whiting, 4||Magnet, 4||Charon, 4|
|Partridge, 4||Tilbury, 4|
|Coquette, 6||Sparrowhawk, 4|
|Beacon, 4||Goldfinch, 4|
|Brave, 4||Delight, 4|
|Bullfinch, 4||Bouncer, 4|
|Raven, 4||Nightingale, 4|
Every precaution was adopted by the Government for the prevention of accidents, and for the safety and convenience of the thousands and tens of thousands of spectators who accompanied the fleet to sea. The Board of Trade issued notices to the masters of steamers cautioning them against carrying more passengers than the number allowed by the Act of Parliament, with the assurance that the pains and penalties under that Act would be fully carried out against all who might be found offending.
For the guidance of the masters of vessels, and to prevent collision between them and the ships of her Majesty's fleet during the Review, the Admiralty issued instructions that steamers, sailing vessels, and boats, were not to attempt to cross the line of the ships-of-war, nor on any account to pass between the columns; nor were they to occupy any part of the man-of-war channel between Spithead and St. Helen's during the evolutions. Steamers were to keep to leeward of the columns of ships in the order of sailing, as their smoke might prevent signals being quickly noticed, thereby causing accident. Vessels were not on any account to pass to windward of the Royal yacht, if it could possibly be avoided. Masters of vessels were reminded that the evolutions of so large a number of men-of-war required a considerable space, and they were, therefore, to steer accordingly, and not close in, to interrupt them, and that they themselves would alone be answerable should any accident occur. Instructions were also issued by the Admiralty that the passenger-steamers should use the anthracite coal, in order to prevent the atmosphere being obscured by the smoke usually evolved from all other description of coal.
In addition to these regulations steam-vessels of the Royal Navy were appointed to clear passages whenever any obstacle might appear likely to impede the progress of the Royal yacht or the manoeuvring of the fleet: these vessels carried two balls at the fore as distinguishing marks.
The weather was most suitable. Indeed, so proverbial has it become when the Queen goes forth on any great occasion, that the weather is certain to be fine, that to find it otherwise would be an exception to the rule. And fine it was; for never did a more delightful day shine upon the myriads of spectators congregated at the various points commanding a view of the fleet and its evolutions. And splendid was the sight it was destined to shine upon, for never was there a more magnificent and gorgeous spectacle in ancient or modern times. "The Serpent of the Nile," great Cleopatra could she have risen from her sarcophagus and been witness to it, would have envied our "Island Queen" her rule of a nation which can boast possession of the greatest and most splendid armament that ever floated.
The town of Portsmouth was crowded to an excess never witnessed before. For days previously the railways had been bringing thousands of visitors from all parts of the kingdom; and steamers from every port on the southern coast, teeming with human freight, had been, day by day, discharging their living cargoes So great was the influx of persons on the Tuesday evening, the day immediately preceding the review, that hundreds of persons were unable to procure any sleeping accommodation at all; while those who were more fortunate and were able to procure beds did so at great pecuniary sacrifice. But it was on the morning of the review that the town presented the most extraordinary appearance. From a very early hour and up to mid-day thousands of excursionists were seen issuing from the various railway termini, and wending their way in one continued stream towards the shore, to secure a good position to witness the sight. Southsea Common was literally teeming with human beings. From the ramparts, and along the esplanade to a considerable distance beyond Southsea Castle, there was one dense living mass. An immense grand stand was erected on the esplanade for the accommodation of those who preferred witnessing the review from the land. The admission fee was fixed at 10s.- a moderate demand when compared to the prices required for accommodation on board any of the steamers.
But it was not only upon the land that the scene was interesting, not was the interest confined on the water exclusively to the Royal fleet. There was smother fleet, important in itself, and which contributed greatly to the splendour of the scene. Our mercantile steamers are of a class that astonish and command the admiration of all who behold them. Among them are some of the largest steamers in the world. Several of these were present - the Simla, Ripon, Alma, Manilla, Sultan, and Euxine, belonging to the Oriental and Peninsular Steam Navigation Company; and the Atrato (the largest paddle-wheel steamer in the world), La Plata, Trent, and Tay, belonging to the Royal Mail Steam-packet Company. These were all thronged with visitors. The directors of the Royal Mail Steam-packet Company, and their friends, were on board the Atrato. The steamers of the South-Eastern Company, from Folkestone, and those belonging to the South-Western Company, were also present; together with many others from various ports, far and adjacent, all swarming with passengers. The French steam L'1mperatrice, from Calais with a numerous company of ladies and gentlemen on board, was among the list. She had a splendid brass band, which, on passing the Admiralty yacht off the pier, struck up "Rule Britannia!"- a graceful and by no means an ill-timed compliment. Nearly all the large steamers carried the French flag at the fore in compliment to our gallant Allies.
ARRIVAL OF HER MAJESTY.
Precisely at half-past eleven o'clock the train conveying her Majesty and suite arrived at the terminus in the Royal Clarence Victualling-yard. She was at once conveyed by her state barge on board the Royal yacht, accompanied by Prince Albert and the other members of the Royal party and suite. The Victory and the other ships in the harbour manned yards and fired a salute so soon as the Royal standard was seen flying at the masthead. Her Majesty was accompanied on board by the Lords of the Admiralty, Sir Edmund Lyons, Admiral De la Gravière, and Mr. Osborne, Secretary to the Admiralty. After a short interval the yacht rapidly steamed out of the harbour, when the forts immediately saluted. The Queen was most enthusiastically cheered by the assembled thousands on the shore as the yacht pursued her course towards the Spit Buoy, on rounding which the whole of the fleet manned their yards and commenced a Royal salute. The scene was most imposing at this period. The yacht then proceeded rapidly towards the westward, followed by a large fleet of steamers which were desirous to keep pace with her, but which her superior speed rendered a matter of impossibility. She passed to the westward of the fleet, and then proceeded between the two lines to the extreme east, where the flag-ships were at anchor. She was followed by the flotilla in the same order in which they lay at anchor. As she passed along the line each of the men-of-war manned the rigging and cheered her Majesty. The French corvette-of-war La Chavala manned yards, and joined in the cheer of welcome. When the yacht arrived at the end of the line she lay to a little to the eastward of the flag-ships, until the squadron of gun-boats should have passed, and proceeded to take up their position to attack the forts, and the floating batteries and mortar-vessels. It was originally intended that the flotilla should follow the yacht to the Nab, between the two lines of the fleet, but this arrangement was abandoned.
It was a most singular and novel sight to see a fleet of nearly l50 sail reviewed within a fleet, and by no means the least interesting portion of the day's proceedings. When the flotilla arrived abreast of the Royal yacht the White and Blue Squadrons went round the flag-ship of Admiral Dundas, the Duke of Wellington, to port, while the Red and Light Squadrons rounded the Royal George, the flag-ship of the Commander-in-Chief, to port. The ease with which these manoeuvres were executed spoke well for the officers and crews, as well as for the handiness of the craft themselves. When the gun-boat flotilla had all passed, signal was made for the fleet to get under way. They were already hove short with their steam up, so that the signal was scarcely conveyed than it was promptly obeyed; and the whole fleet were quietly stealing from their anchorage in the same order in which they lay - the Port Division being headed by the Duke of Wellington, bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral Dundas, and the Starboard Division by the Royal George, with the flag of the Commander-in-Chief; and her Majesty heading both divisions in the Royal yacht. In this manner they proceeded to the pivot- ships London (90) and Rodney (90), which were anchored about a mile to the E.N.E. of the Nab light, when the Royal yacht hove to ahead of these vessels, while the Starboard Division passed to starboard of the pivot-ship and the Port Division to port, and in this manner returning to their anchorage.
In the mean time, while the fleet had been steering to the Nab, the gun-boat flotilla had taken up its position for attacking the forts and floating batteries. The Blue Squadron, under the command of Captain Yelverton had anchored in order of battle to attack Southsea Castle. The White Squadron, commanded by Captain Keppel, was anchored in line to oppose the floating batteries and the forty mortar-vessels, extending upwards of a mile and a half in length. The Red was opposed to the fort in Stokes Bay, and the Light to Fort Monckton: these were commanded by Captain Codrington and Captain Astley Cooper Key.
The line extended nearly four miles. This fleet is, perhaps, one of the most wonderful of our recent improvements. It has been brought into existence in a most incredibly short time, and is a most formidable engine in shoal water where a line-of-battle ship cannot reach. This will at once be perceived by their description and armament.
The first class of gun-boats is composed of screw-ships of 200 feet length, and carrying six long 68-pounders, provided with engines of 360-horse power, and a crew of a 100 men. This class is intended as subdivisional ships.
The second class are about 150 feet long, and carry four 68-pounders, are provided with engines of 200-horse power, and the crew numbers 80 hands.
The third class are about 100 feet long, of 60-horse power engines, armed with one 68-pounder pivot-gun, one 32-pourder pivot-gun, and two brass howitzers, 24-pounders, on the broadside. This class is by far the most useful and numerous of the whole flotilla, their extraordinary light draught (generally averaging from 4 to 6 feet) enabling them to steam in the shallowest creeks and inlets, while their heavy armament renders them effective against the strongest forts. The whole bulwarks are provided with moveable wrought iron plates, perfectly rifle-proof, and reaching about seven feet above the deck, so as to protect the men from the enemy's riflemen, in case of having to force the passage of narrow rivers defended by sharpshooters.
The fourth class is also a useful flotilla for very shallow streams and close in-shore service. It comprises vessels of about eighty feet lon>g, the engines averaging 20-horse power; each boat carrying two 32-pounder pivot-guns amidships, the crew usually numbering thirty-six hands, exclusive of officers. These boats are very little larger than the small steamers which ply upon the Thames, though they are certainly considerably broader, in order to admit of working the guns without danger to the craft. Their draught of water, with stores, ammunition, provisions, and guns on board, does not exceed from 3½ to 4 feet.
The whole flotilla is provided with high-pressure locomotive boilers, the place necessarily devoted to the machinery rendering this expedient absolutely imperative, to economise the limited area at disposal of the engineers. Yet small as the horse-power appears, the speed of the fleet of gun vessels is by no means contemptible, the average being from seven to nine knots.
Having described the power and armament of the gun-boats, of which there are nearly 200 in existence, it may be as well to explain those of the floating batteries and mortar-vessels, to which the White Squadron are now opposed in mimic warfare. Each of these tremendous floating batteries carries fourteen 68-pounders, and is sheathed from the bulwarks to three feet below the water line with massive plates of wrought iron, 14 feet 6 inches in length, 20 inches wide, and 4½ inches thick; and each of these plates is bolted to the timber sides of the vessel with forty screw-nuts. When French floating batteries of the same construction were used in the combined attack on the fortress of Kinburn one vessel was struck fifty-eight times in the hall without injury, except that where she was hit her wrought iron plates were dented to depths varying from ¼ to 1½ inches. The mortar-boats are all most formidable vessels. They are cutter-rigged, with light and small spars. Their tonnage averages 120 tons, while their draught of water is only from four to five feet. Each is about forty feet long and eighteen broad, and armed with one 13-inch mortar, weighing, with stand, &c., nearly nine tons. These terrific ordnance, when mounted in their places, leave no more space than two feet on each side; the most limited at which the gun can be worked. Some idea may be formed of the immense strength of the construction of these boats when it is mentioned that under each discharge the mortar recoils upon the vessel with a pressure of nearly seventy-five tons. That fortress must indeed be strong which could withstand the united attack of these vessels now opposed in mimic warfare against each other.
While the fleet was rapidly returning to anchor the spectators on shore watching with considerable interest the movements of the gunboats, anxious for the commencement of the attack. The signal was at length made, and the firing was opened by the Blue squadron against Southsea Castle. The White Squadron next commenced the attack against the mortar-vessels and floating batteries, and almost immediately after the Red and Light Squadrons opened fire against the Fort in Stokes Bay and Fort Monckton. When the firing was commenced against Southsea Castle, there were many thousand persons assembled under its walls, who, although expecting it, appeared considerably astonished as the loud report of the heavy guns suddenly crashed upon their ears. The gun-boats lay right across the entrance of Portsmouth Harbour, from shore to shore, nearly four miles, and the firing from such an extended line of heavy guns had a very imposing effect, though it was considered rather deficient, from the fortresses not returning their fire. After firing a few rounds each against their supposed foes, the gun-boats as well as the spectators were completely enveloped in smoke, which did not clear away until the firing ceased. There is no question that they would have proved most formidable had their services been required in those seas where it was originally intended they were to be sent. Happily, however, peace has reduced the requirements of those services to the display of this day.
After the signal was made to cease firing, the Royal yacht proceeded at speed to the harbour, under the salute of the fleet of ships-of-war who had returned to their anchorage. Her Majesty was then conveyed to London by special train, where she arrived about eight o'clock.