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Lord Charles Beresford

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Title: The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Beresford

Author: Lord Charles Beresford

Release Date: November 20, 2015 [EBook #50508]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Al Haines

Charles Beresford, Admiral
Charles Beresford, Admiral





First Published (2 vols.) . . . . October 6th, 1914
Second Edition . . . . November, 1914
Third Edition . . . . December, 1914
Fourth Edition (1 vol.) . . . . September, 1916




This work is a record of my life from the year 1859, when I entered the Royal Navy, to the year 1909, when I hauled down my flag and came on shore.

For the Introduction and the Notes, which have been written in order to amplify the personal narrative and to connect it with the historical events of the period, Mr. L. Cope Cornford is responsible.

I have dedicated the book to my brother officers of the Royal Navy.

As luck would have it, my career has been of a singularly varied character. And my hope is that, in reading its story, boys and girls, as well as their elders, may find pleasure.


    June 1914















X. THE CRUISE OF H.M.S. GALATEA (continued)—










XIX. THE EGYPTIAN WAR (continued)—

XX. THE EGYPTIAN WAR (continued)—

XXI. THE EGYPTIAN WAR (continued)—



XXIV. THE SOUDAN WAR (continued)—

XXV. THE SOUDAN WAR (continued)—

XXVI. THE SOUDAN WAR (continued)—

XXVII. THE SOUDAN WAR (continued)—


XXIX. THE SOUDAN WAR (continued)—


XXX. THE SOUDAN WAR (continued)—

XXXI. THE SOUDAN WAR (continued)—

XXXII. THE SOUDAN WAR (continued)—


XXXIV. THE SOUDAN WAR (continued)—




XXXVIII. H.M.S. UNDAUNTED (continued)—






    I. CHINA
















(The "Notes" are by L. COPE CORNFORD)



THE AUTHOR … … … … … . . Frontispiece
    From a photograph by Heath

    From a photograph by G. D. Croker


    From paintings at Curraghmore

    From a photograph

    From a painting in the possession of the Author

    From a photograph

    From a photograph by J. Russell & Sons

    From a photograph

    From a photograph


    From a photograph

    From a photograph

    From a chart drawn by the Author at the time

    From a drawing by Frederic Villiers

    From a drawing by Frederic Villiers

    After a drawing made on the spot by the Author


    From a photograph by Hallen, New York


    From a painting in the possession of the Author

    From a photograph by Elliott & Fry


    From the drawing by J. Walter Wilson in the possession
        of the Author


    From a drawing by Phil May in the possession of the Author

    From a photograph

(Design of Cover by HAROLD WYLLIE)




Lord Charles William de la Poer Beresford, born in 1846, was the second of five brothers, sons of Sir John de la Poer Beresford, fourth Marquess of Waterford. Lord Charles's elder brother, Sir John Henry de la Poer Beresford (to give him his full title), Earl and Viscount of Tyrone, Baron de la Poer of Curraghmore in the county of Waterford, and Baron Beresford of Beresford in the county of Cavan, in the Peerage of Ireland, and Baron Tyrone of Haverfordwest in the county of Pembroke, in the Peerage of Great Britain, Knight of the Most Illustrious Order of St. Patrick, succeeded to these titles in 1866. Sir John joined the 1st Life Guards. He died in 1895, and was succeeded by his son (nephew to Lord Charles), as presently to be noted.

Of the other three brothers, Lord William de la Poer joined the 9th Lancers and became Military Secretary to five successive Viceroys of India, was a patron of the Turf, and died in 1900; Lord Marcus de la Poer joined the 7th Hussars, took charge of the King's racehorses, an office which he still fulfils, and was appointed Extra Equerry to King George; Lord Delaval James de la Poer (sixteen years younger than Lord Charles) ranched in North America and was killed in a railway accident in 1906.

The five brothers were keen sportsmen, hard riders, men of their hands, high-couraged, adventurous, talented in affairs, winning friendship and affection wherever they went. {xviii} Lord John-Henry, fifth Marquess, the eldest brother, inherited the family tradition of good landlordship. There was never any oppression of tenants on the Waterford estate. In the House of Lords and in the country, Lord Waterford took a strenuous part in the troubled and complex issues of Irish politics; although during the last years of his life he was crippled and helpless, the result of an accident which befell him in the hunting field. Lord William won the V.C. by an act of cool and audacious gallantry in the Zulu war of 1879; renowned for reckless hardihood, there was hardly a bone in his body which he had not broken; and it is probable that his injuries, diminishing his powers of resistance, caused him to succumb to his last illness. Lord Charles has broken his chest-bone,—a piece of which was cut out in his boyhood, leaving a cavity,—pelvis, right leg, right hand, foot, five ribs, one collar-bone three times, the other once, his nose three times; but owing to his extraordinary physique and strict regimen, he is younger and stronger at the time of writing than most men of half his age.

The family home of the five brothers was Curraghmore, a noble estate lying some twelve miles west of Waterford. The great house stands in a cup of the hills, whose slopes are clothed with woods of oak, the primæval forest of Ireland. The oak woods adjoining the house were planted with the design of supplying timber to the Royal Navy. Built foursquare, like most houses in Ireland, the mansion faces upon a vast gravelled quadrangle, closed in on left and right by the long ranges of stables. Beyond the lawns of the terraced garden, beyond the hanging woods, the bony shoulders of the mountains of Comeragh hunch upon the changing sky; nearer hand, darkens the lone hill of Croughaun; and day and night the noise of running waters, the voice of the Clodagh River, flowing through tawny shallow and sombre pool, breaking white-maned upon rock and fall, rises upon the quiet air. Looking westward from the bare summit of the hill above the deer-park, you shall {xix} view the rich valley parcelled into garden and farm and paddock, which are set among deep groves; in the midst, flanked by a gleam of water, the house darkens upon the westering sunlight; and beyond, the sparkling landscape fades into the profound and aerial blue of the mountain wall. Eastward, the rounded bosses of the forest clothe the hills; and in the valley's gentle opening, the river Suir, like a scimitar laid on cloth of tapestry, glimmers dark and bright upon the plain, which, studded with woods and dotted with white specks of villages, stretches to where the dim sea-line merges in the sky.

Over yonder, cloven through the heart of the ancient woods, a green drive rises to the skyline, bordered on either side by rhododendrons, like huge ropes of jewels, three miles long. In the forest there is silence. Few birds or none nest in that deep labyrinth of silver-barked and shaggy trees, rooted for centuries in the mould of their own perennial decay. The martin-cat is lord of that hoary solitude. As a boy, Lord Charles trapped the martin-cats, and presented his mother with a muff made from their skins.

High on the hill rising to the north of the house of Curraghmore, set in a grove of beeches and enclosed within a wall, the last resting-place of the Beresfords opens upon a great and shining prospect of wood and mountain. Here is a wide and broad stone platform, like an ancient altar, the hue of rusty iron, compact of the granite slabs whereon the names of the dead are graven. On three sides it is walled with the tall silver stems of beeches, whose branches high overhead interlace in a green canopy.

Hard by stands the private chapel, once the parish church of Clonegam, a bleak and an unfeatured edifice. Within, there reclines the bronze effigy of the third Marquess, he of the aquiline profile and the full beard, who broke his neck out hunting in 1859. Opposite to him lies the white marble figure, urbane and majestic, of Lord John, his successor, father of Lord Charles Beresford. In the south wall of the chancel, in an arched recess cut out of the {xx} thickness of the wall, the white light falls from an unseen opening above upon the sculptured figure of a lady, sleeping recumbent, and beside her nestles the tiny form of her child. She was the first wife of the fifth Marquess, and she died in childbirth. Near by the private chapel, high uplifted on the bare shoulder of the hill, stands a round tower, a mark for leagues, the monument set up to the memory of the little boy, Marcus, Lord le Poer, heir to Lord Tyrone, afterwards first Marquess. He died from the effects of a fall from his pony, the accident occurring when he was jumping hurdles just outside the great courtyard of the house. His portrait, painted by Gainsborough, hangs in the drawing-room. It is a noble head, done with Gainsborough's inimitable delicacy. The lad's blue eyes gaze frankly out of the picture; his fair hair curls upon his shoulders; his coat is scarlet, with the open falling collar of the time; the face is of a singular beauty.

Near by, in the centre of the wall, hangs Sir Joshua Reynolds's portrait of Sir Francis Delaval, K.B. A tremendous figure, Sir Francis, posed in a commanding attitude upon a hillside, right arm extended, grasping a musket with fixed bayonet, and clad in a rich suit of claret colour and cocked hat. He was the uncle of the wife of the second Marquess of Waterford. By reason of that alliance, many of the Delaval family pictures came to Curraghmore.

Here is Lord Delaval himself, who died in 1808, a nobleman of a somewhat rugged and domineering countenance. Here is the first Marquess of Waterford, with a long hooked nose; he is thin-lipped, narrow-eyed (it seems that he had a squint), wearing the ribbon and star of a Knight of St. Patrick. Henry, second Marquess, was painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence; a handsome head, crowned with a mass of fine light hair. In the hall hangs the portrait of the third Marquess; he whose bronze effigy lies in the chapel. He is reading. With his pale and finely cast features, his thick brown hair and beard, he might have been (but was not) an ascetic student. He married the Hon. Louisa {xxi} Stuart, second daughter and co-heiress of Charles, Lord Stuart dc Rothesay. The Marchioness was a lady of taste, and was considered the most talented amateur painter of her day. She laid out anew the gardens, where heretofore the horses used to graze close to the house, took great interest in the improvement of the mansion itself, designed the Cawnpore Memorial, designed Ford village, formerly the property of the Delavals in Northumberland, and achieved a series of cartoons representing religious subjects, which adorn the walls of the school at Ford.

These and many other ancestral portraits gaze from the walls of gallery and hall and chamber, in the great house of Curraghmore. Each generation as it grew up has traced in them its own lineaments fore-ordained, and has marked the miracle of heredity repeated again and again, from Sir Tristram Beresford, darkling in full armour, through the masterful Katherine le Poer and the beautiful Susanna Carpenter, whose mother was a Delaval, to the penultimate head of the house of De la Poer Beresford.

The entrance hall of the mansion of Curraghmore is the ancient keep, which was built by the De la Poers in the late twelfth or early thirteenth century, foursquare, the walls ten feet thick. The rest of the house is eighteenth century. The original edifice is briefly described in The Antient and Present State of the County and City of Waterford, by Charles Smith, published in Dublin in 1740, and in The History, Topography and Antiquities of the County and City of Waterford, by the Rev. R. H. Ryland, published by Murray in 1824. Sir Marcus, first Earl of Tyrone, and his son, afterwards first Marquess of Waterford, made considerable additions, which, according to the date inscribed upon the lead work, were completed in 1771. From the old keep, transformed into an eighteenth-century entrance hall, a flight of steps leads to the inner hall, whence a wide staircase rises, following the walls, and out of which open the reception rooms. These face upon lawn and fountain and terrace. Over the entrance door are carved the family coat; {xxii} and the crest of the De la Poers, a stag couchant bearing a cross upon his forehead, crowns the parapet. Upon the garden front are sculptured the Beresford shield and their crest, "a dragon's head erased, the neck pierced with a tilting spear, and holding the point broken off in the mouth." Motto, Nil nisi cruce.

Such was the home of the five brothers, when their father, Lord John dc la Poer Beresford, in holy orders, succeeded his brother in 1859. Lord Charles Beresford, who had been for some years at school in England, joined the Navy in that year. He came to Curraghmore in his brief and widely spaced intervals of leave, while his brothers came home more frequently during their vacations. In those days, the stables were filled with horses, the house was populous with guests; and the great courtyard in front of the house, now silent, resounded with the cheery bustle of a jovial company coming and going. All winter the house was thronged; there was hunting six days in the week; and more than a hundred horses were stabled at Curraghmore. Lord Charles Beresford has told how that many a time, when, as a midshipman, he was humping beef into the blood-boats for the Fleet, did he think not without envy upon his brothers, each with his two or three hunters, riding to hounds at Curraghmore.

The house of Beresford derives from the "very old and eminent English family of Beresford of Beresford, in the county of Stafford," and from the De la Poers, an ancient Breton family, and their quarterings include the noble houses of Hamilton, Monck, Carpenter, Plantagenet, Lastile and Leon, Mortimer, De Burgh, Holland, Wake, Wevill, Beauchamp, Delaval, Blake. The Beresfords represented the English plantation in the North of Ireland, until the marriage was made which united them with De la Poers, who were of the first English plantation in the South.



Tristram Beresford came into Ireland in the reign of James I., as manager of the corporation of Londoners, known as "The Society of the New Plantation in Ulster." {xxiii} The first Tristram settled at Coleraine, in county Londonderry. His son, Sir Tristram, first Baronet, in common with the first created Baronets of Ulster, bore on his shield the open red hand of Ulster, hitherto borne by the forfeited O'Neils. Sir Randal, second Baronet, sat in the first Parliament held after the Restoration.

Sir Tristram, his son, commanded a regiment of foot against King James II., and was attainted. He it was who married the Hon. Nicola Sophia Hamilton, concerning whom a legend of the supernatural is current. Briefly, it is that the friend of her early years, the Earl of Tyrone, visited her after his death, according to agreement, and, to prove the reality of his appearance, touched her wrist, shrivelling nerve and sinew, so that ever afterwards she wore a bracelet of black velvet. A picture, supposed to represent this lady, hangs in Curraghmore. It must be said that the evidence of it extant is so highly dubious, that the story is not worth telling in detail.

Sir Tristram was succeeded by his son, Sir Marcus, fourth Baronet, who married the Lady Katherine de la Poer, who was Baroness in her own right. Thus the two houses were conjoined. Lady Katherine was the only daughter and heiress of James, third and last Earl of Tyrone. She was allowed the Barony of La Poer in fee by resolution of the Irish House of Lords, on 16th November 1767. Sir Marcus her husband was created Earl of Tyrone in 1746. The son of Sir Marcus and Lady Katherine, George De la Poer, was created Marquess of Waterford in 1789, and Knight of St. Patrick at the Institution of the Order in 1783. First Marquess, he was the first De la Poer Beresford.

The De la Poer, Power, or Poher, family traces its descent from Comorre I., Count of le Poher, who married the widow of Jonas, King of Domnonée, and who died A.D. 554. Le Poher was one of the five independent states of Brittany, of which the others were La Domnonée, La Cornouailles, Le Vannes, and Le Leon. The genealogy of the Le Poers is {xxiv} interesting, if only by reason of its romantic names. From Comorre I., Count of le Poher, descended the Counts Comorre, Erispoë, Rivallon, Nominoë. Nominoë married one Argantal, defeated Charles the Bald, drove the Franks out of Brittany, and was proclaimed King of that country in 841. He was succeeded by his son Erispoë, who married Mormohec. From the aforesaid Rivallon descended Salomon, who (having achieved a little murderous intrigue) succeeded King Erispoë, and married Wembrit. From the brother of Salomon, Mathuedoi, descended Alain, Count of Vannes and Duke of Brittany, who fought against the Normans, and who was driven by them to take refuge in England. His son Alain (called Barbe-torte) returned to Brittany, drove out the Normans in his turn, and united Le Poer to the Duchy.

From the Pohers, in the female line, descended Arthur, Duke of Brittany, who was done to death by John, King of England, A.D. 1203. There is this other link between John of England and the De la Poers, that in the demesne of Curraghmore an ancient bridge of stone, over which the English King is said to have passed, spans the river and is called John's Bridge to this day. From the Duchess Constance, the mother of Arthur of Brittany, descended the Duchess Anne, who married King Louis XII. of France. Brittany was thus incorporated in France.

The Pohers seem to have come to England with Duke William of Normandy, called the Conqueror. In 1066 they are found in Devonshire; and later, in Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Shropshire, Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Herefordshire; a fructuous and an acquisitive clan. They came to Ireland in the reign of the second Henry: then came Sir Robert, Sir Roger, William and Simon. Sir Roger helped in the invasion of Ulster. But the founder of the De la Poers of Curraghmore was Sir Robert, who, in the year 1172, accompanied King Henry II. as Knight Marshal, and to whom was given by the King, the town of Waterford and a great parcel of county Waterford.


Towards the end of the sixteenth century, Sir Henry Sidney, in the course of his account of the province of Munster, communicated to the Lords of the Council, describes his visit to John, Lord le Poer, who was born in 1527. "27th Feb., 1575. The day I departed from Waterford I lodged that night at Curraghmore, the house that Lord Power is baron of, where I was so used, and with such plenty and good order entertained (as adding to it the quiet of all the country adjoining, by the people called Power country, for that surname has been since the beginning of the Englishman's planting inhabitants there), it may be well compared with the best ordered country in the English Pale. And the Lord of the country, though he be of scope of ground a far less territory than his neighbour is, yet he lives in show far more honourably and plentifully than he or any other, whatsoever he be, of his calling that lives in his province."

The "Peerage of Ireland" of 1768 urbanely observes: "It is very remarkable, that in so long a succession in this family, and in a country continually disturbed and torn by rebellion and civil wars, that not one of this family was ever engaged in any rebellion against the crown of England, nor was there ever a forfeiture in the family during the space of six hundred years that they have been planted in Ireland; and they at this day enjoy the family lands, and reside at the same place they were originally settled in, in the county of Waterford. In a grant of letters patent from King Charles II. to this Richard, Lord la Poer, bearing date the 9th May, the twenty-third year of his reign, there is this recital. That the ancestors of the said Richard, Lord la Poer, from their first planting in Ireland, for above four hundred years, had entirely preserved their faith and loyalty to the crown of England, in consideration therefore," etc.

Sir Tristram Beresford, up in the North, fought against King James Second; but the De la Poers harboured that monarch; who in the course of his retreat from Ireland, {xxvi} slept a night at Curraghmore, and departing thence took ship at Waterford, and was no more seen in Erin.

Sir Marcus, the son of Sir Tristram, as above recited, united the two houses by marrying the Lady Katherine le Poer; and their descendants, as in 1768, "at this day enjoy the family lands and reside at the same place they were originally settled in." The earldom of Tyrone, which was extinguished by the death of Lady Katherine's father, the third Earl, was revived in Sir Marcus Beresford. Tracing back the direct line of the De la Poers of Curraghmore, we find that Nicholas de la Poer was summoned to Parliament in 1375, in 1378, and in 1383, by the most ancient writs contained in the Rolls Office in Ireland. This Sir Nicholas of Curraghmore traced his descent from Brian Boru, King of Erin, who died in 1014. The line of Irish Kings (as recorded in Whitaker's Almanack) goes back to A.D. 4; and some say much further.

A collateral branch of the De Pohers, or Powers, was the Barons of Donoyle, or Dunhill, the ruins of whose castle remain to this day. It was stoutly defended against Cromwell by the Baroness; and, according to tradition, was betrayed into the hands of the enemy by the lieutenant of her garrison. These Powers were then transplanted to Connaught, and their estates were forfeited. Another collateral branch was the Powers of Knockbrit, county Tipperary. In the year 1789, to Edmund Power and his wife, who was a daughter of "Buck" Sheehy, was born Marguerite, who became Lady Blessington. It seems that her father, "Buck" Power, dissipated his fortune, as the mode was in those days; that he compelled his daughter to marry one Captain Farmer, who ill-treated her; that Mrs. Farmer left her husband, came to London with her brother, was painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence, and, after Farmer's death, married Lord Blessington. Here is a link with my Lord Byron.

The relation of the De la Poer Beresfords with the Delavals of Seaton-Delaval in Northumberland, consists in the marriage of Sir Henry de la Poer, second Marquess {xxvii} (1772-1826), with Lady Susanna Carpenter, who was the granddaughter of Lord Delaval. Her mother, daughter of Lord Delaval, married George, second Earl of Tyrconnel. The Lady Tyrconnel was famed for her beauty. The portrait of her daughter, Lady Susanna, now at Curraghmore, represents a singularly beautiful, fair-haired creature, delicately featured, blue-eyed. The Delavals would seem to have been a high-spirited, reckless, and spendthrift race. Extravagant entertainments were devised at their house of Seaton-Delaval, which was built by Sir John Vanbrugh, playwright and architect. The actor Foote was a friend of the family; they were devoted to amateur theatricals; and Garrick once lent Drury Lane Theatre to them. The Delavals were singularly addicted to practical jokes; a tendency to the same diversion has reappeared in later generations. Lord Delaval's only son died young, and the title expired. There is a picture of the sturdy, brown-haired lad at Curraghmore. It is worth noting that an ancestor of Lady Susanna, and, therefore, of Lord Charles Beresford, was a naval officer of some distinction. George Delaval, vice-admiral of the Red, was present at the action fought off Cape Barfleur in May 1692.

The generation of the second Marquess, he who married the Lady Susanna, produced an Archbishop: even the Right Honourable and Most Reverend Lord John George de la Poer Beresford, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland. He was born in 1773, and died in 1862. Possessing great wealth, he was known for his immense benefactions. He gave largely to Dublin University, and to the College of Saint Columba; restored the Cathedral at Armagh at a cost of £30,000; and augmented the salaries of his clergy. The bust of this magnificent prelate stands in the private chapel at Curraghmore. His body is interred in Armagh Cathedral. The Archbishop bequeathed his Property in county Cavan to Lord Charles Beresford; the townlands on the estate bearing such euphonious names as Ballyheady, Corraleehan Beg, Crockawaddy, {xxviii} Kiltynaskeelan, Derrynacrieve, Gubnagree, Scrabby, Tullynamoultra.

The third Marquess, Sir Henry de la Poer, having met his death in the hunting-field, was succeeded in 1859 by his brother, Sir John, who was Dean and Prebendary of Mullaghbrack, in the Arch-diocese of Armagh. He married, in 1843, Christina Leslie, daughter of Charles Powell-Leslie. She was born in 1820, and lived until 1905. The Marchioness learned to ride when she was between forty and fifty years of age, and speedily became a noted rider to hounds. Their sons, as before recited, were Sir John-Henry de la Poer, fifth Marquess of Waterford; Lord Charles, Lord William, Lord Marcus, and Lord Delaval; of whom Lord Charles and Lord Marcus survive at the time of writing. Lord Charles was born on 10th February 1846 at Philipstown Glebe, Louth. It was the year of the great famine; and at Curraghmore, half a regiment was then quartered in the house.

The fifth Marquess, elder brother of Lord Charles, was succeeded in 1895 by his son, nephew to Lord Charles. The sixth Marquess lost his life by a sad accident in 1911. The present heir is a minor.

In this chronicle, brief as it is, three notable figures cannot be omitted: Mr. Commissioner John Beresford, Admiral Sir John Poo Beresford, and the Marshal. (For information concerning these worthies, I have drawn upon the Dictionary of National Biography.)

John Beresford, whose name is even yet occasionally reproached by the descendants of his political opponents, was born in 1738, and died in 1805. He was the second son of Marcus, Earl of Tyrone (brother of the first Marquess) and Lady Katherine, Baroness de la Poer. Appointed First Commissioner of Revenue in 1780, John Beresford became in fact ruler of Ireland. He was entrusted by Pitt with the management of all Irish affairs. Viceroys came and viceroys went, but Beresford continued to hold a position "greater than that of the Lord Lieutenant {xxix} himself"; much to the indignation of Lord Fitzwilliam, who, when he was appointed Lord Lieutenant, permitted himself to address the First Commissioner in terms so indigestible that Beresford promptly challenged him. The duel, however, was prevented. John Beresford took a great part in the preparation and passing of the Act of Union; was M.P. for Waterford and a Privy Councillor; and did much to improve the city of Dublin, the fine Custom-house being built under his auspices. He married Barbara Montgomery, who was one of the "Three Graces" in the painting done by Sir Joshua Reynolds, now in the National Gallery. The other two Graces were her sister, Lady Mountjoy, and the Marchioness of Townshend.

Admiral Sir John Poo Beresford (1768 (?)-1884) was a natural son of the first Marquess of Waterford. He entered the Royal Navy in 1782; fought a smart action in the capture of the French store-ships in Hampton Roads on 17th May 1795; and performed distinguished service in the West Indies. He took part in the famous eight months' blockade off Ferrol in 1808, and in the blockade of Lorient, commanding one of those "weather-beaten ships upon which the Grand Army never looked." In 1810 he was co-operating off Lisbon with Wellington's army, with which his younger brother the Marshal, in command of the Portuguese Army, was also co-operating. He represented in Parliament, in succession, Coleraine, Berwick, Northallerton, and Chatham. In 1835 he was Junior Lord of the Admiralty. His career, a combination of fighting seaman, member of Parliament, and Junior Lord, presents a singular resemblance to the career of his relative, Lord Charles Beresford.

Marshal Beresford, or, more precisely, General Viscount William Carr Beresford, was born in 1768 and died, full of years and honours, in 1854. Son of the first Marquess, he also, like the Admiral, bore the bar sinister on his escutcheon. As captain of the 69th Regiment, he was with Lord Hood at Toulon in 1793, and commanded the storming party at the tower of Martello. He was present at the {xxx} captures of Bastia, Calvi, and San Fiorenzo. After service in India, Beresford's brigade led the march across the desert in the Egyptian campaign of 1801. Eighty-four years later, his relative, Captain Lord Charles Beresford, took his Naval Brigade across the desert with Sir Herbert Stewart's forlorn hope.

Beresford was present at the capture of Cape Colony under Baird in 1805. Then he went up to Buenos Ayres, and with 1200 men took that place from the Spanish. After three days' hard fighting, Beresford was driven out of Buenos Ayres by an overwhelming force. Then he went with Sir Arthur Wellesley to Portugal; where he commanded two brigades under Sir John Moore. In the terrible winter retreat to Corunna, Beresford's brigade, told off to assist the rescue, was constantly engaged with the French vanguard. At Corunna, Beresford fought on the English left, achieving the greatest distinction.

In 1809, at the request of the Portuguese Government, Beresford was appointed to reorganise the Portuguese Army. Gifted with that marvellous capacity for handling men and for organisation, which Irishmen of English descent sometimes combine with a reckless gallantry, Beresford speedily transformed an ill-found, insubordinate mob into an efficient, well-fed, fighting force. He knew how to establish obedience to discipline, together with the confidence that good conduct would be rewarded; or, in Lord Charles Beresford's phrase, he coupled "commendation with condemnation." The Portuguese Government made him marshal in the Portuguese Army while he was lieutenant-general in the British Army; nor did the annoyance discovered by British officers at the double rank, which gave Wellington trouble, perturb the Marshal in the least. His Portuguese fought well alongside the English at Busaco, an action which earned Beresford the K.C.B. and other decorations.

He won the battle of Albuera, defeating Soult, though not without heavy losses. The victory was said to be due {xxxi} to the action of one of his Staff, rather than to Beresford's tactics; a good deal of controversy was waged on the subject, in which the Marshal, after his retirement, took a vigorous part; but the fact remains that Albuera was won.

Beresford was present at the tremendous siege of Badajoz and at the battle of Salamanca, at which he was severely wounded. He speedily recovered, and fought at Vittoria in 1813, in the battles of the Pyrenees, and in the battles of Nivelle, Nive, and Arthez. He then returned to Portugal to command the Portuguese Army; so that he was not present at Waterloo. At the conclusion of the war he was created Baron. He left Portugal in 1822, and took his seat in the House of Lords, where he was a sturdy supporter of the policy of the Duke of Wellington. In 1828 he was appointed Master-General of Ordnance. In 1830 he retired.

Wellington wrote of the Marshal in 1812: "All that I can tell you is that the ablest man I have yet seen with the army, and that one having the largest views, is Beresford ... he is the only person capable of conducting a large concern." And upon another occasion, Wellington affirmed that if he were removed by death or illness, he would recommend Beresford to succeed him, not because he was a great general, but because he alone could "feed an army."

General Lord Beresford married the Hon. Louisa Hope, his first cousin, daughter of the Most Rev. William Beresford, Archbishop of Tuam and Lord Decies, and widow of Thomas Hope, author of Anastatius. His stepson was A. T. Beresford-Hope, sometime member for Cambridge University.

In 1824 the Marshal purchased the ancestral estate of the Beresfords in Staffordshire. His portrait, which bears a singular resemblance to Lord Charles, hangs in Curraghmore. It depicts a burly, martial figure, gorgeous in full uniform, with a broad, jovial, open countenance, and a bold blue eye, head thrown back, and a vast spread of chest and {xxxii} shoulder. Endowed with extraordinary physical strength, he was a born fighter, a great administrator, a big, warm-hearted, quick-tempered, irrepressible Beresford.

The formal list of his titles is: Viscount and Baron in the peerage of England, Duke of Elvas in the peerage of Spain, Conde de Trancoso in the peerage of Portugal, K.C.B., etc., colonel-in-chief 60th Rifles, colonel 16th Regiment, general in the English Army, marshal in the Portuguese Army.

The generations pass: the House remains. The House of de la Poer Beresford derives, from among other sources innumerable, from the Counts of Brittany, in the sixth century; from Brian Boru, King of Ireland, in the eleventh; from the Beresfords, that "very old and eminent English family," Norman in origin; from the Delavals of Northumberland, whose forefathers fought in the Crusades. This is the virtue of ancient lineage: that from generation to generation, an honourable tradition of service, of peculiar obligation, gathers reinforcement. Every scion of the House is judged by the stern company of his forefathers; who, together with his dower of body and of mind and heritage of land or wealth, bequeath him warning or example. No traffic in titles can purchase that unique inheritance, nor can any forfeiture of material possessions diminish its essential value.





I saw the Navy for the first time in the year 1858, when I was twelve years old. The Channel Squadron came into the Downs; the admiral, who was a friend of my father, invited me to visit his flagship. The admiral put off from Deal in a six-oared galley, and I was taken into a second boat. Both crews began to pull with all their might. I remember being intensely excited, beating with my hand on the gunwale and urging the men to row faster. We were overhauling the admiral, when the boat in which I was slackened her pace.

"Row!" I shouted. "Why don't you go on rowing?"

"We can't pass the admiral, sir," said the coxswain. And that was my first lesson in naval etiquette.

As we drew near to the ships, there arose a great tumult of shouting, and I could see the men running to and fro and racing aloft, and presently they stood in rows along the yards, manning yards in honour of the arrival of the admiral.

The neatness and order of the stately ships, the taut rigging, the snowy sails, the ropes coiled down neatly on deck: these things left an abiding impression upon my youthful mind.


It was in the winter of the same year, 1858-9, that a certain young soldier, who had fought throughout the Indian Mutiny with great gallantry and conspicuous ability, came to his home in County Waterford on his first furlough. He was Lieutenant Roberts, V.C.; now Field-Marshal Earl Roberts of Kandahar.

"During the winter months," he writes, "I hunted with the Curraghmore hounds, and was out with them the day before Lord Waterford was killed. We had no run, and at the end of the day, when wishing us good-bye, he said 'I hope, gentlemen, we shall have better luck next time.' 'Next time' there was 'better luck' as regarded the hunting, but the worst of all possible luck for Lord Waterford's numerous friends; in returning home after a good run, and having killed two foxes, his horse stumbled over quite a small ditch, throwing his rider on his head; the spinal cord was snapped, and the fine sportsman breathed his last in a few moments." (Forty-one years in India. By Field-Marshal Lord Roberts of Kandahar. Bentley. 2 vols. London, 1897, p. 451, vol. 1.)

My father, the Rev. Lord John Beresford, succeeded to the marquisate. In the same year, 1859, I joined the Naval Service. I remember, some years afterwards, thinking with some degree of envy of my two younger brothers, each of whom had three hunters, while I was only the "blood-boat" (the jolly-boat bringing beef to the ship) midshipman of a man-of-war.

At that time the Navy consisted of both sailing ships and steamships. Steam was used as seldom as possible in those ships which were fitted with masts and yards. The flagships of the Cape of Good Hope, East Indies and China, South-east Coast of America, Pacific and North America and West Indies stations were all sailing ships. The Navy List of 1859 gives the names of no less than 548 "effective" ships, together with a list of 185 "steam gunboats" and a list of 121 vessels employed in Harbour Service.

That there was so large a number of "steam gunboats" {3} was the result of the Crimean war, during which very many were built for service in the Baltic. There is a story that an admiral returning from foreign service noticed eight gunboats aground on the Spit. Upon his inquiry, he was informed by one of his crew that they were "commanded by these old Baltic War mates and second masters, the sort what knows nothing and fears nothing." But of the sailing master there will be more to say.

The line-of-battle sailing ships which were flagships on naval stations abroad were:—the Boscawen, 70 guns, Rear-Admiral Hon. Sir Frederick W. Grey, Cape of Good Hope; Calcutta, 84, Rear-Admiral Sir Michael Seymour, East Indies and China; Cumberland, 70, Rear-Admiral Sir Stephen Lushington, S.E. Coast of America; Ganges, 84, Rear-Admiral R. L. Baynes, Pacific; Hibernia, 104, Rear-Admiral H. J. Codrington, Malta; Indus, 78, Vice-Admiral Sir Houston Stewart, North America and West Indies.

The number of ships distributed among the various stations in 1859 was no less than 130. "Trade follows the flag."

  East Indies and China . . . . . . .  36
  Pacific . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
  W. Coast of Africa  . . . . . . . .  17
  N. America and W. Indies  . . . . .  14
  S.E. Coast of America . . . . . . .  13
  Mediterranean . . . . . . . . . . .  22
  Cape of Good Hope . . . . . . . . .   5
  Australia . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
  River Gambia  . . . . . . . . . . .   1
  Channel . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
                             Total    130

The presence of so large a force in Chinese waters was due to the affair of "the lorcha Arrow," which occurred on 8th October, 1856, in the Canton River. The Arrow, a small vessel flying the British flag, was captured by the Chinese authorities and the crew were arrested on a charge of piracy. In the result, Admiral Sir Michael Seymour bombarded {4} Canton. Operations were suspended during the Indian Mutiny, to be resumed in 1858, with the assistance of France. Canton was captured, and the treaty of Tien-Tsin was concluded with China. It was not, however, ratified, and in June, 1859—six months before I entered the Navy—hostilities were resumed, to terminate in the burning of the Summer Palace at Pekin, and the subsequent signing of a convention.



I was sent to sea for the somewhat vague reasons which so often determine a boy's future. There was a belief that I was of a delicate constitution, and an impression—perhaps justified—that I needed discipline. I was sent to Bayford School in England when I was very young, together with two of my three brothers. We were known as the three "wild Irish." Among my schoolfellows were the present Lord Rosebery, James Lowther, Lord Newport, Lord Claud Hamilton and Lord George Hamilton, Lord Worcester, and Lord Methuen. From Bayford I went to the educational establishment of the Rev. David Bruce Payne (afterwards Canon) at Deal, where I first saw the ships of the Royal Navy, as already related. Canon Payne was a splendid type of the best British clergyman, and I had a great respect and affection for him. I was afterwards a pupil of the Rev. Mr. Foster, of Stubbington, Fareham.

I received my nomination from Captain Charles Eden, C.B., and qualified as a naval cadet on 12th December, 1859. The qualifying certificate must be signed by the candidate; a regulation which, simple as it seems, was nearly my undoing.

"Do you always sign your Christian name William with one 'l'?" asked the examiner.

It was a critical moment. Irish resource supplied the answer.

I said, "Only sometimes, sir."

The examiner smiled grimly. But he passed me. It was my first narrow escape in the Navy.


I have the faded blue paper before me as I write. The signature, laboriously written in a round hand, is "Charles Wiliam Delapoer Beresford."

The qualifying examination was not very formidable in those easy days. The knowledge required consisted of a little "English," less French or Latin (with the "aid of a dictionary"), a "satisfactory knowledge of the leading facts of Scripture and English History," a certain amount of geography, and an elementary knowledge of arithmetic, algebra and Euclid. The preliminary course of education afforded to "Volunteers," as the naval cadets used to be called, at the Royal Naval College, Portsmouth, had been abolished in 1837, and for the next twenty years cadets were sent straight to sea. In 1857, cadets were entered for training in the Illustrious, Captain Robert Harris. The number of cadets exceeding the accommodation in the ship, the Britannia was commissioned on 1st January, 1859, by Captain Harris. But not for many years did the entrance examination become the competitive ordeal for which cramming is the only preparation, known to the present generation. But I remember Admiral William Bowles, commander-in-chief of Portsmouth, taking me kindly by the shoulder and saying, "Well, my little man, you are very small for your age. Why are you being sent to sea?"

I said that I wanted to go to sea.

"Are you good at your books?" asked the admiral. "Bless me, I know many an admiral who could not pass the examination you have passed. Good Heavens, what they expect boys to do nowadays!"

The Britannia was then moored at the entrance to Haslar Creek in Portsmouth Harbour, where the depot ships of the submarines are moored to-day. Alongside her, in the following year, lay the training frigate Eurydice, which was afterwards capsized off the Isle of Wight on 24th March, 1878, when 318 lives were lost out of a complement of 320. I learned to heave the lead from the chains of the Eurydice.



In addition to the ordinary school curriculum on board the Britannia, the cadets were taught seamanship, gunnery and navigation. Book-work did not interest me, but I took great pains to become proficient in seamanship, in which I always secured a high place.

A cadet entering the Britannia under 14 years of age, would be rejected from the Service if he failed to pass the fourth quarterly examination after his entrance. Having entered the Britannia in December, 1859, I was sent to sea in March, 1861. I was very happy during my time in the Britannia. Out of school time, we did a great deal of boat-pulling. My boat was called the Gazelle. I remember that one day, when I borrowed a private boat to put off to the Gazelle, my comrades pushed me out into the stream, and I drifted out to Spithead, without oars. There was nothing in the boat but a painter, which I considered it to be my duty neatly to coil down. Then I sat still and waited until a boat came to fetch me.

Seamanship was taught by the use of models, and sail-drill was taught upon the mizen-mast. I remember being haunted by a doubt lest the handling of small models, and going aloft in a stationary ship, might not enable me to practise the knowledge thus acquired when I came to deal with the real full-size objects and to go aloft in a ship at sea. My prevision was largely justified; and when I came to command a ship, I made the youngsters learn their business by handling real things and not the models of them. For if anything goes wrong while teaching a youngster, for instance, to lay out a 6-ton anchor upon a model, he puts it right with his finger and thumb and thinks he can do the same with the real anchor.

The captain of the Britannia was Robert Harris, to whom the Service owes the inestimable benefit of cadet training ships. The first lieutenant was George S. Nares (now Vice-Admiral Sir George S. Nares, K.C.B.). He commanded the Challenger in her voyage of scientific discovery of 1872, during which he was recalled to proceed {8} upon his celebrated voyage of Arctic exploration. Another lieutenant was William H. Heaton, whose long whiskers afforded the cadets much innocent amusement. On a windy day his whiskers used to stream backwards over his shoulders. Lieutenant Heaton chose to wear his stripes running longitudinally up his arm, a peculiarity which exemplifies the prevailing latitude with regard to uniform. There was no rule prescribing the pattern of cap or great-coat worn in the Service. Officers might wear the mohair band and badge on any kind of cap that took their fancy. Some of them used to transfer plain clothes buttons to a uniform coat or greatcoat, if they were going ashore, for the sake of economy; for we were nearly all poor in those days. The chaplain and naval instructor was the Rev. Robert M. Inskip.

My chest on board the Britannia stood between the chests of poor "Andy" Wauchope and Henry John Thoroton Hildyard. Both subsequently left the Navy for the Army. The late Major-General Andrew Gilbert Wauchope, D.S.O., was fatally wounded at Magersfontein during the South African war. General Sir Henry J. T. Hildyard, G.C.B., K.C.B., retired in 1911, after long and distinguished service. I was strongly inclined to follow the example of my comrades and to join the Army; and I have since occasionally regretted that I remained in the Navy, in which Service there is less opportunity for attaining the highest rank.

I was raised to the rank of "captain" in the Britannia; but I regret to say that my enjoyment of that dignity was singularly brief, for I was disrated upon the same day, even before I had time to put on the stripe. For my delight at my promotion so exhilarated me, that I forgot to resist the temptation to empty a bread-barge upon the head of the old master-at-arms as he was coming up the hatchway, and the spectacle was so amusing that I stayed to laugh at it.

When I entered the Service, the system of training {9} young seamen, as well as cadets, was in operation. To Sir James Graham, First Lord of the Admiralty, is due the credit of introducing the training of seamen. In 1854, he caused the Illustrious, two-decker, to be commissioned for that purpose, under the command of Captain Robert Harris. The fact was that as sails gave place to steam and as the science of gunnery progressed, it became necessary to enter seamen as boys and to train them for continuous service. For some time the short service and long service systems were concurrent. When I went to sea, captains still entered men direct from the merchant service, and very good seamen they were. They were engaged for a commission, at the end of which they could re-engage or not as they pleased. But in the meantime, under the admirable administration of Captain Harris, "Jimmy Graham's novices," as they were called, earned an excellent reputation in the Fleet; and continuous service gradually replaced intermittent service. In the continuous service system resided our chief superiority over foreign Navies. The objection to it on the part of the Government was (and is) the increasing permanent charge of pensions. But in the interests of the Service and of the country, it cannot be too clearly understood that the system is well worth the cost, and that the revival of the short service system is profoundly to be regretted.


H.M.S. Britannia.—She was the seventh ship of her name. She was launched at Plymouth in 1820, was pierced for 120 guns, and her complement was 900 men. Her length, beam and draught were 205 feet, 53 feet and 18 feet respectively. In the Crimean war, she landed 200 men as part of the naval brigade which assisted the Army at the siege of Sevastopol, and took part in the bombardment of that town. She was commissioned on 1st January, 1859, by Captain Robert Harris, as a training ship for cadets. {10} The Britannia was stationed first in Portsmouth Harbour, then at Dartmouth. She was broken up in 1869. The memory of Captain Robert Harris deserves to be held in high honour. Vice-Admiral Sir William Fanshawe Martin, who himself achieved great reforms in the discipline of the Fleet, while in command of the Mediterranean Fleet, wrote to Captain Harris under date 18th January, 1861, "There is no man in England whose opportunity of doing good to our country for ages to come is greater than yours; and assuredly the Navy is greatly your debtor." (The Story of the Britannia, by Commander E. P. Statham, R.N. Cassell.)

The successor of the Britannia in which Lord Charles Beresford received his training, the eighth of her name, known and remembered with affection by all naval officers save the new generation, lay at Dartmouth for more than forty years, when her functions were transferred to the colleges on shore. (The King's Ships, by H. S. Lecky, Lieut. R. N. Muirhead. Vol. 1.)



On the 25th of March, 1861, I was appointed naval cadet in the Marlborough. As I climbed up her side by the hand-rungs, while my chest was being hoisted in over all, I perceived two huge men looking down upon me, and I heard one say to the other:—

"That white-faced little beggar ain't long for this world, Dick."

The speaker was John Glanville (called Clamfy Glanville), boatswain's mate (of whom more anon), and he addressed this lugubrious remark to Dicky Horne, the quartermaster, a very fat man. It was a far from encouraging welcome to the sea; but the fact was that I had been ill, and was feeling very cold as I climbed up the side of the ship. At first, I was much disappointed at having been sent to a large ship, for we youngsters had a notion that there were more freedom and independence in a small ship; and besides, I wanted to go to China. But I went to China all in good time.

The Marlborough was the flagship of the Mediterranean station. She was a wooden line of battleship, three-decker, launched in 1835, 4000 tons burthen old measure, 6390 displacement new measure, fitted with single screw horizontal Maudslay engines. The length of her gundeck was 245 feet 6 inches, her extreme beam was 61 feet, her maximum draught was 26 feet. Her complement was 950, and she always carried 100 or more supernumeraries. She was pierced for 131 guns and she carried 121 guns. She was {12} one of the first ships to be fitted with wire lower rigging. In the Marlborough the old 24-inch hemp cable was used for laying out anchor at drill. It was the same class of cable as that which was used in Nelson's time; it was superseded by the chain cable.

The vice-admiral in command of the Mediterranean station was Sir William Fanshawe Martin (called "Fly" Martin); the captain, William H. Stewart; the commander, Thomas Brandreth: three of the finest officers that ever lived. The captain of the Fleet was Rear-Admiral Sydney C. Dacres, C.B. His duties were those of what we should now call a chief of staff. The office was subsequently abolished; and it was always my desire to see it restored.

Ships in those days were manned according to the number of guns they carried. The theory was that if the boats' crews were absent from the ship, there should always be sufficient men on board to work the sails and the guns. The watch-bills were made out upon this principle, the men being distributed among what were called the "parts of the ship." In the case of a newly commissioned ship, the making out of the watch-bills and assigning his place to each man, was the first thing to be done. It was no small task, especially as no printed forms were supplied for the purpose. The watch-bills were ruled and entered by the officers on paper supplied by themselves, and were arranged upon the tradition handed down for centuries. Even the signalmen supplied their own pencils and paper. Each ship made its own arrangement. It was not until 1860 that uniform watch-bills, quarter-bills and station-bills were instituted.


The men were classed in the following categories, each "part of the ship" being divided into port watch and starboard watch.

The Forecastlemen
The Foretopmen
The Maintopmen
The Mizentopmen
The Gunners
{13} The Afterguard
The Royal Marines
The Idlers

The Forecastlemen were most experienced seamen. They wore their caps a little differently from the others. They manned the foreyard, and worked the foresail, staysail, jib, flying jib, jibboom, flying jibboom and lower studdingsails.

The Foretopmen worked the foretopsail, foretopgallant and foreroyal yards, foretopgallantmast, foretopmast and topgallant studding-sails.

The Maintopmen worked the maintopsail, maintopgallant and main-royal yards and maintopgallantmast, maintopmast and topgallant studding-sails.

The Mizentopmen worked the mizentopsail, mizentopgallant and mizen-royal yards, and mizentopgallantmast, mizentopmast and mizencourse (if there was one), also the driver.

The upper-yard men were the smartest in the ship, whose character largely depended upon them.

The Gunners, assisted by the Afterguard, worked the mainsail and mainyard. These were generally old and steady men, who were not very quick aloft. The gunners were also responsible for the care and maintenance of the gun gear, side tackles, train tackles and the ammunition. The senior warrant officer was the gunner.

There were only three warrant officers:—gunner, boatswain and carpenter.

The Royal Marines were divided between fore and aft, working on forecastle and quarterdeck. I remember seeing a detachment of Marines, upon coming aboard, fallen in while the blacksmith, lifting up each man's foot behind him, wrenched off and dropped into a bucket the metal on the heel of his boot, lest it should mark the deck.

The Afterguard worked on the quarterdeck and helped with the mainyard. They were the less efficient men and were therefore employed under the eye of the commander.


The Idlers were not idlers. They were so called because (theoretically) they had their nights in, although actually they turned out at four o'clock a.m. They were artificers, such as carpenters, caulkers, plumbers, blacksmiths, etc. They worked all day at their several trades until their supper-time. They were nearly all old petty officers, steady and respectable. It was part of their duty to man the pumps every morning for washing decks. I made up my mind that, if ever I was in a position to do so, I would relieve them of an irksome and an inappropriate duty.

In action, the carpenters worked below decks, stopping holes with shot-plugs, while many of the other Idlers worked in the magazines. Among the Idlers was the ship's musician—unless the ship carried a band—who was a fiddler. He used to play to the men on the forecastle after working hours and when they manned the capstan. Personally I always considered the name of Idlers to be anomalous. They are now called Daymen.

Among the ship's company were several negroes. At that time, it was often the case that the captain of the hold and the cooper were coloured men.

An instance of the rapidity and efficiency of the organisation of the Marlborough occurred upon the night before she sailed for the Mediterranean. She was newly commissioned, and she carried a large number of supernumeraries on passage. We took out 1500 all told. A fire broke out on the orlop deck; the drum beat to quarters; every man instantly went to his station, to which he had previously been told off; and the fire was speedily extinguished. The event was my first experience of discipline in a big ship.

The nature of the discipline which was then in force, I learned on the way out to the Mediterranean. In the modern sense of the word, discipline was exemplified by the Royal Marines alone. I cannot better convey an idea of the old system than by means of an illustration. Supposing that a Marine and a bluejacket had each committed an offence. The Marine was brought up on the quarter-deck before the {15} commander, and the charge was read to him. The commander asked him what he had to say. The prisoner, standing rigidly to attention, embarked upon a long rambling explanation. If his defence were invalid, the commander cut him short, and the sergeant gave his order. "Right turn. Quick march." The Marine, although continuing to protest, obeyed automatically, and away he went. He continued to talk until he was out of hearing, but he went. Not so the bluejacket. He did not stand to attention, not he. He shifted from one foot to the other, he hitched his breeches, fiddled with his cap, scratched his head.

"Well, sir," said he, "it was like this here, sir," ... and he began to spin an interminable yarn.

"That'll do, my man," quoth the commander. But, not at all. "No, sir, look here, sir, what I wants to say is this"—and so on, until the commander had to order a file of Marines to march him below.

But both Marine and bluejacket had this in common: each would ask the commander to settle the matter rather than let it go before the captain; and the captain, to sentence him rather than hold a court-martial.

The explanation of the difference between the old system of discipline and the new is that in the sailing days it was of the first importance that the seaman should be capable of instant independent action. The soldier's uniformity and military precision were wholly unsuited to the sailor, who, at any moment, might have to tackle an emergency on his own initiative. If a seaman of the old days noticed anything wrong aloft, up he would run to put it right, without waiting for orders. Life and death often hung upon his promptitude of resource.

In the old days, we would often overhear such a conversation as the following:—

Officer: "Why the blank dash didn't you blank well do so-and-so when I told you?"

Man: "Why didn't I? Because if I had I should have been blank well killed and so would you."


Officer: "Damn you, sir, don't you answer me! I shall put you in the report."

Man: "Put me in the ruddy report, then."

And the next day the commander, having heard both sides, would say to the officer,

"Why, the man was quite right." And to the man, "You had no right to argue with the officer. Don't do it again. Now get away with you to hell."

And everyone would part the best of friends.

The change came with the improvement and progress in gunnery, which involved, first, the better drilling of the small-arm companies. In my early days, the small-arm companies used to drill with bare feet. Indeed, boots were never worn on board. It was of course impossible to wear boots going aloft for a sailor going aloft in boots would injure the heads and hands of his topmates. Occasionally the midshipmen went aloft barefooted like the men. So indurated did the feet of the sailors become, that they were unable to wear boots without discomfort, and often carried them when they were ashore.

A sailor's offences were hardly ever crimes against honour. They rather arose from the character induced by his calling. Its conditions were hard, dangerous and often intensely exciting. The sailor's view was devil-may-care. He was free with his language, handy with his fists and afraid of nothing. A smart man might receive four dozen for some violence, and be rated petty officer six months afterwards. Condemnation was then the rule. Personally, I endeavoured to substitute for it, commendation. For if there are two men, one of whom takes a pride in (say) keeping his rifle clean, and the other neglects it, to ignore the efficiency of the one is both to discourage him and to encourage the other.

Before the system of silence was introduced by the Marlborough the tumult on deck during an evolution or exercise was tremendous. The shouting in the ships in Malta Harbour could be heard all over Valetta. The Marlborough introduced the "Still" bugle-call. At the {17} bugle-call "Still" every man stood motionless and looked at the officer. For in order to have an order understood, the men must be looking at the officer who gives it. During the Soudan war, I used the "Still" at several critical moments. Silence and attention are the first necessities for discipline. About this time the bugle superseded the drum in many ships for routine orders.

There were few punishments, the chief punishment being the cat. The first time I saw the cat applied, I fainted. But men were constantly being flogged. I have seen six men flogged in one morning. Even upon these painful occasions, the crew were not fallen in. They were merely summoned aft "for punishment"—"clear lower deck lay aft for punishment" was piped—and grouped themselves as they would, sitting in the boats and standing about, nor did they even keep silence while the flogging was being inflicted. The officers stood within three sides of a square formed by the Marines. Another punishment was "putting the admiral in his barge and the general in his helmet," when one man was stood in a bucket and the other had a bucket on his head.

Very great credit is due to Admiral Sir William Martin, who reformed the discipline of the Fleet. The Naval Discipline Act was passed in 1861; the New Naval Discipline Act in 1866. In 1871 a circular was issued restricting the infliction of corporal punishment in peace time. Flogging was virtually abolished in 1879. (Laird Clowes' The Royal Navy, vol. 7.) Now we have proper discipline and no cat. In former days, we had the cat but no proper discipline.

The men were granted very little leave. They were often on board for months together. When they went ashore, there they remained until they had spent their last penny; and when they came on board they were either drunk or shamming drunk. For drunkenness was the fashion then, just as sobriety is, happily, the fashion now. In order to be in the mode, a man would actually feign drunkenness on coming aboard. In many a night-watch after leave had been {18} given have I superintended the hoisting in of drunken men, who were handed over to the care of their messmates. To-day, an intoxicated man is not welcomed by his mess, his comrades preferring that he should be put out of the way in cells. It was impossible to keep liquor out of the ship. Men would bring it aboard in little bladders concealed in their neckties. Excess was the rule in many ships. On Christmas Day, for instance, it was not advisable for an officer to go on the lower deck, which was given up to license. I remember one man who ate and drank himself to death on Christmas Day. There he lay, beside a gun, dead. Other cases of the same kind occurred in other ships.

The rations were so meagre that hunger induced the men constantly to chew tobacco. For the same reason I chewed tobacco myself as a boy. Nor have I ever been able to understand how on such insufficient and plain diet the men were so extraordinarily hardy. They used to go aloft and remain aloft for hours, reefing sails, when a gale was blowing with snow and sleet, clad only in flannel (vest) serge frock and cloth or serge trousers, their heads, arms and lower part of their legs bare. Then they would go below to find the decks awash in a foot of water, the galley fire extinguished, nothing to eat until next meal time but a biscuit, and nothing to drink but water.

Seamen often curse and swear when they are aloft furling or reefing sails in a gale of wind; but I have never heard a sailor blaspheme on these occasions. Their language aloft is merely a mode of speaking. Although in the old days I have heard men blaspheme on deck, blasphemy was never heard aloft in a gale. To be aloft in a whole gale or in a hurricane impresses the mind with a sense of the almighty power of the Deity, and the insignificance of man, that puny atom, compared with the vast forces of the elements.

In later life, I once said to a young man whom I heard using blasphemous language in a club:

"If you were up with me on the weather yard-arm of a topsail yard reefing topsails in a whole gale, you would be {19} afraid to say what you are saying now. You would see what a little puny devil a man is, and although you might swear, you would be too great a coward to blaspheme."

And I went on to ram the lesson home with some forcible expressions, a method of reproof which amused the audience, but which effectually silenced the blasphemer.

The fact is, there is a deep sense of religion in those who go down to the sea in ships and do their business in the great waters. Every minister of God, irrespective of the denomination to which he belongs, is treated with respect. And a good chaplain, exercising tact and knowing how to give advice, does invaluable service in a ship, and is a great help in maintaining sound discipline, inasmuch as by virtue of his position he can discover and remove little misunderstandings which cause discontent and irritation.

The discomforts of the Old Navy are unknown to the new. The sanitary appliances, for instance, were placed right forward in the bows, in the open air. If the sea were rough they could not be used. On these occasions, the state of the lower deck may with more discretion be imagined than described. As the ship rolled, the water leaked in through the rebated joints of the gun-ports, and as long as a gale lasted the mess-decks were no better than cesspools. It is a curious fact that in spite of all these things, the spirits of both officers and men rose whenever it came on to blow; and the harder it blew, the more cheery everyone became. The men sang most under stress of weather; just as they will to-day under the same conditions or while coaling ship. After a gale of wind, the whole ship's company turned-to to clean the ship.

In those days the men used to dress in cloth trousers and tunic with buttons. The men used to embroider their collars and their fronts with most elaborate and beautiful designs. They had two hats, a black hat and a white hat, which they made themselves. The black hats were made of straw covered with duck and painted. Many a man has lost his life aloft in trying to save his heavy black hat from being blown away.


The fashion of wearing hair on the face was to cultivate luxuriant whiskers, and to "leave a gangway," which meant shaving upper lip, chin and neck. Later, Mr. Childers introduced a new order: a man might shave clean, or cultivate all growth, or leave a gangway as before, but he might not wear a moustache only. The order, which applied to officers and men (except the Royal Marines) is still in force.

Steam was never used except under dire necessity, or when entering harbour, or when exercising steam tactics as a Fleet. The order to raise steam cast a gloom over the entire ship. The chief engineer laboured under considerable difficulties. He was constantly summoned on deck to be forcibly condemned for "making too much smoke."

We were very particular about our gunnery in the Marlborough; although at the same time gunnery was regarded as quite a secondary art. It was considered that anyone could fire a gun, and that the whole credit of successful gunnery depended upon the seamanship of the sailors who brought the ship into the requisite position. The greater number of the guns in the Marlborough were the same as those used in the time of Nelson, with their wooden trucks, handspikes, sponges, rammers, worms and all gear complete. The Marlborough was fitted with a cupola for heating round-shot, which were carried red-hot to the gun in an iron bucket. I know of no other ship which was thus equipped.

The gunnery lieutenant of the Marlborough, Charles Inglis, was gifted with so great and splendid a voice, that, when he gave his orders from the middle deck, they were heard at every gun in the ship. We used to practise firing at a cliff in Malta Harbour, at a range of a hundred yards or so. I used to be sent on shore to collect the round-shot and bring them on board for future use. I remember that when, in the course of a lecture delivered to my men on board the Bulwark more than forty years afterwards, I related the incident, I could see by their faces that my audience did not believe me; though I showed to them the shot-holes in the face of the cliff, which remain to this day. {21} On gunnery days, all fires were extinguished, in case a spark should ignite the loose powder spilt by the boys who brought the cartridges to the guns, making a trail to the magazines. At "night quarters," we were turned out of our hammocks, which were lashed up. The mess-tables were triced up overhead. The lower-deck ports being closed, there was no room to wield the wooden rammer; so that the charges for the muzzle-loading guns were rammed home with rope rammers. Before the order to fire was given, the ports were triced up. Upon one occasion, so anxious was a bluejacket to be first in loading and firing, that he cherished a charge hidden in his hammock since the last night quarters, a period of nearly three months, and, firing before the port was triced up, blew it into the next ship.

In those days, the master was responsible for the navigation of the ship. He was an old, wily, experienced seaman, who had entered the Service as master's mate. (When I was midshipman in the Defence, the master's assistant was Richard W. Middleton, afterwards Captain Middleton, chief organiser of the Conservative Central Office.) The master laid the course and kept the reckoning. As steam replaced sails, the office of master was transferred to the navigating officer, a lieutenant who specialised in navigation. The transformation was effected by the Order in Council of 26th June, 1867.

The sail-drill in the Marlborough was a miracle of smartness and speed. The spirit of emulation in the Fleet was furious. The fact that a certain number of men used to be killed, seemed to quicken the rivalry. Poor Inman, a midshipman in the Marlborough, a great friend of mine, his foot slipping as he was running down from aloft, lost his life. His death was a great shock to me.

The men would run aloft so quickly that their bare feet were nearly indistinguishable. Topmasts and lower yard were sent down and sent up at a pace which to-day is inconceivable.

I once saw the captain of the maintop hurl himself bodily down from the cap upon a hand in the top who was slow in {22} obeying orders. That reckless topman was Martin Schultz, a magnificent seaman, who was entered by the captain direct from the Norwegian merchant service, in which he had been a mate.

Mr. George Lewis, an old topmate of mine, who was one of the smartest seamen on board H.M.S. Marlborough, has kindly sent to me the following interesting details with regard to the times of sail-drill and the risks incidental to the evolutions.

                                   Time allowed       Time in
                                    by Admiral.    _Marlborough_.
                                      Min.  Sec.      Min.  Sec.

  Cross topgallant and royal yards      1     0        0     30
  Down topgallant yards with royal
      yards across                      2     0        1     13
  Up topgallant mast, cross upper
      yards and loose sails             2    30        1     27
  Shift topgallant masts from royal
      yards across                      7     0        5     40
  Up topgallant mast and make all
      plain sail                        4     0        2     40
  Up topgallant mast and make all
      possible sail                     6     0        3      0
  Shift topsails from plainsail         6     0        4     50
  In all boom boats from away aloft     7     0        6      0
  Out all boom boats                    7     0        5     40
  Away lifeboat's crew                  0    30        0     20

What Mr. Lewis means by "admiral's time," let him explain in his own words. "When our admiral" (Sir William Martin) "was captain of the Prince Regent, which was considered the smartest ship in the Navy, he brought all her times of all her drills to the grand old Marlborough along with him; and you know, my lord, that he allowed us six months to get our good old ship in trim before we drilled along with the Fleet; but we started to drill along with the Fleet after three months, and were able to beat them all."

"Now, my lord," continues Mr. Lewis, "I come to one of the smartest bits of our drill. When we were sailing in the Bay of Naples under all possible sail, our captain wanted to let the world see what a smart ship he had and what a smart lot of men was under him. From the order 'Shift topsails and courses make all possible sail again'"—which really means that the masts were stripped of sails and again {23} all sails were hoisted—"Admiral's time 13 minutes, our time 9 minutes 30 seconds. All went without a hitch, within 400 yards of our anchorage."

Mr. Lewis proceeds to recount a very daring act of his own. "We were sending down upper yards and topgallant mast one evening, and it was my duty to make fast the lizard. But I could only make fast one hitch, so I slid down the mast rope and it turned me right over, but I managed to catch the lizard and hold on to it, and so saved the mast from falling on the hundred men that were in the gangway. No doubt if it had fallen on them it would have killed a good many...."

What happened was that Lewis, in the tearing speed of the evolution, not having time properly to secure the head of the mast as it was coming down, held the fastening in place while clinging to the mast rope and so came hurtling down with the mast. He adds that he "felt very proud"—and well he might—when the captain "told the admiral on Sunday that I was the smartest man aloft that he had ever seen during his time in the Service." He had an even narrower escape. "I was at the yard-arm when we had just crossed" (hoisted into place). "I was pulling down the royal sheet and someone had let it go on deck, and I fell backwards off the yard head-foremost. I had my arm through the strop of the jewel block, and it held me, and dropped me in the topmast rigging, and some of my topmates caught me."

Mr. Lewis himself was one of the smartest and quickest men aloft I have ever seen during the whole of my career. The men of other ships used to watch him going aloft. "My best time," he writes—and I can confirm his statement "from ''way aloft' to the topgallant yard-arm was 13 seconds, which was never beaten." It was equalled, however, by Ninepin Jones on the foretopgallant yard. The topgallant and royal yard men started from the maintop, inside of the topmast rigging, at the order '"way aloft." The height to be run from the top, inside of the topmast rigging, {24} to the topgallant yard-arm was 64 feet. From the deck to the maintop was 67 feet. At one time, the upper-yard men used to start from the deck at the word "away aloft"; but the strain of going aloft so high and at so great a speed injured their hearts and lungs, so that they ascended first to the top, and there awaited the order "away aloft."

The orders were therefore altered. They were: first, "midshipmen aloft," when the midshipmen went aloft to the tops; second, "upper-yard men aloft," when the upper-yard men went aloft to the tops, and one midshipman went from the top to the masthead.

At the evening or morning evolution of sending down or up topgallant masts and topgallant and royal yards, only the upper-yard men received the order, "upper-yard men in the tops." The next order was "away aloft," the upper-yard men going to the masthead.

At general drill, requiring lower- and topsail-yard men aloft, as well as upper-yard men, the orders were: first, "midshipmen aloft"; then "upper-yard men in the tops"; then, "away aloft," when the lower- and topsail-yard men went aloft to the topsail and lower yards, and the upper-yard men went aloft to the masthead.

These arrangements applied of course only to drill. In the event of a squall or an emergency, the men went straight from deck to the topgallant and royal yards.

Mr. Lewis's performance was a marvel. Writing to me fifty years afterwards, he says:—"I think, my lord, it would take me a little longer than 13 seconds now to get to the maintopgallant yard-arm and run in again without holding on to anything, which I have done many hundreds of times."

The men would constantly run thus along the yards—upon which the jackstay is secured, to which again the sail is bent, so that the footing is uneven—while the ship was rolling. Sometimes they would fall, catching the yard, and so save themselves.


The foretopgallant-yard man, Jones, was as smart as Lewis, though he never beat Lewis's record time. These two men were always six to ten ratlines ahead of the other yard men, smart men as these were. One day Jones lost a toe aloft. It was cut clean off by the fid of the foretopgallant mast. But Jones continued his work as though nothing had happened, until the drill was ended, when he hopped down to the sick bay. He was as quick as ever after the accident; and the sailors called him Ninepin Jack.

Another old topmate, Mr. S. D. Sharp, writing to me in 1909, when I hauled down my flag, says:—"I was proud of the old Marlborough and her successor up the Straits, the Victoria. They were a noble sight in full sail with a stiff breeze. No doubt the present fleet far excels the old wooden walls, but the old wooden walls made sailors. But sailors to-day have to stand aside for engine-men. Going round Portsmouth dockyard some few years since, I was very sad to see the noble old Marlborough a hulk" (she is now part of H.M.S. Vernon Torpedo School), "laid aside, as I expect we all shall be in time" (Mr. Sharp is only between seventy and eighty years of age). "I am doubtful if there are many men in the Navy to-day who would stand bolt upright upon the royal truck of a line-of-battle ship. I was one of those who did so. Perhaps a foolish practice. But in those days fear never came our way."

There speaks the Old Navy.

When a ship was paid off out of Malta Harbour, it was the custom that there should be a man standing erect on each of the trucks, main, mizen and fore. Many a time have I seen these men balanced more than 200 feet in the air, strip off their shirts and wave them. And once I saw a man holding to the vane-spindle set in the truck, and I saw the spindle break in his hand, and the man fall....

In the course of my experience, I have seen a man fall off the main-royal yard, be caught in the belly of the mainsail slip down the sail, catch the second reef-line with his {26} legs, and hold on until a topmate ran aloft with a bowline and saved him.

I have seen a man fall off the maintopsail yard, and be caught in the bight of the mainsheet in the main rigging, and run aloft again. And this was at sea.

And several times I have seen a man fall from aloft to be dashed to pieces upon the deck.

One of the closest escapes I have ever had occurred aloft in the Marlborough. Being midshipman of the mizenroyal, I was furling the sail, leaning forward upon the yard, gathering in the canvas, my feet braced backward upon the footrope, when another midshipman, leaping upon the footrope, accidentally knocked it from under my feet. For two or three seconds I hung by the tips of my fingers, which were pressed against the jackstay of the mizen-royal yard (the rope running taut along the top of the yard to which the sail is bent) under which I could not push my fingers, and then, at the last moment, I found the footrope again. I have never forgotten my feelings, when I saw certain death approaching while my feet were clawing about for the footrope.

When the hands were turned out to bathe, John Glanville, chief boatswain's mate, would go up to the main-yard, stand with one foot on the yard and the other on the preventive braceblock, and thence take a header. The height was between 50 and 60 feet. Once he struck the sea sideways, and was injured, so that he was never quite the same man afterwards. But any other man would have been killed.

On another occasion, when the ship was hove-to for the hands to bathe, the captain of the forecastle hauled the jib sheet aft, and the ship began to glide away from the officers and men, myself among them, in the water. Luckily all got on board again.

In the spirit of emulation, I fell into deserved disgrace at sail-drill. In order to be first in the evolution, I secretly unbent the foretopgallant sheet before the men arrived at the masthead. Another midshipman did likewise at the {27} main. He was Arthur Gresley, one of the smartest midshipmen aloft, and one of the best oars in the Service, a splendid, cheery, chivalrous, noble-minded lad. We were discovered; and, before all the men, we were ordered down on deck, and were severely reprimanded for having endeavoured to gain an unfair advantage, thereby staining the character of a ship justly noted for her scrupulous fair play. I was taken out of my top, deprived of the command of my boat, and disrated to cadet; and I had serious thoughts of ending a ruined career by jumping overboard. I have never been so genuinely unhappy before or since. But upon the following day I was rated up again, and replaced in my top and my boat.

At first in the Marlborough I was midshipman of the mizentop, and in charge of the jolly-boat. The midshipman in charge of a boat learned how to handle men. As he was away from the ship with them for long periods, he was forced to understand them and to discover how to treat them, thus learning the essential elements of administration. As all my delight was in seamanship, I contrived to miss a good deal of school. It was not difficult, when the naval instructor desired my presence, to find a good reason for duty with my boat. I was afterwards midshipman of the foretop, and when I was promoted from the jolly-boat to the second pinnace, and to the command of the first subdivision of the three-pounder division of field-guns for landing, being placed in charge of one three-pounder gun, I thought I was an emperor.

We used to land with the guns for field-battery exercises, setting Marine sentries all round to prevent the men getting away to drink. Returning on board, we used to race down the Calcara Hill at Malta to the harbour. On one occasion, we were going so fast that we couldn't turn the gun round the corner, and gun and all toppled over the wharf into the water.....

I fell into another scrape in excess of zeal for marksmanship. We used to practise aiming with rifles and {28} muzzle-loading Enfields, the Service rifle of that day. We fired percussion caps without charges, at little bull's-eyes painted on a strip of canvas, which was stretched along the bulwarks below the hammock-nettings. The marksman stood on the opposite side of the deck. Another midshipman and myself contrived to fire a couple of caps as projectiles, which of course entered the woodwork behind the targets, making dreadful holes. This appalling desecration, involving the fitting in of new planking, was discovered by the commander, Brandreth. His rage was justifiable. We were stood on the bitts, and also mastheaded.

Captain Houston Stewart used to fish from the stern gallery when the ship was at anchor. He tied his line to the rail, and went back into his cabin, returning every few minutes to see if he had a fish. Beneath the stern gallery opened the ports of the gunroom. With a hooked stick I drew in his line, attached a red herring to the hook, dropped it in again, and when the captain came to feel his line I jerked it. He hauled it up in a hurry. Instantly after, he sent for all the midshipmen; and, for some reason or other, he picked me out at once.

"You did that, Beresford," he said. "Most impertinent! Your leave will be stopped."

Next day, however, he let me off.

Among the most delightful incidents were the boat-races. It was before the time when fleet regattas were instituted. What happened was that a boat would row round from their ship, to the ship they wished to race, and toss oars under her bows in sign of a challenge. Then the boat's crew of the challenged ship would practise with intense assiduity until they felt they were fit to meet the enemy. The bitterest feeling was aroused. Even the crews of "chummy ships" could not meet without fighting. Hundreds of pounds were wagered on the event. In the Marlborough we had the cutter, Black Bess, specially built for racing. Her stroke was John Glanville, the gigantic boatswain's mate, who, when I joined the ship, told Dicky {29} Horne, the quartermaster, that I was not likely to live long. He was the son of Ann Glanville, the redoubtable West country woman who pulled stroke in the crew of Saltash women that raced and beat a crew of Frenchmen at Cherbourg, under the eyes of the Queen, the Prince Consort, the Emperor Napoleon III., and the British and French navies. That notable victory was won in 1858, when Queen Victoria, accompanied by the Prince Consort, visited Napoleon III. The Queen and the Prince sailed in H.M.S. Victoria and Albert, escorted by a squadron of men-of-war. They were received by the French Navy. After the race, the Queen invited the Saltash women on board the Royal yacht. Later in life, it was my privilege to remove anxiety concerning her livelihood from fine old Mrs. Glanville.

I steered the Black Bess, and we beat the two best boats in the Fleet; and then we were challenged by the St. George. The St. George had taken the upper strake off her boat to make her row easier. Now the stroke of the St. George was George Glanville, brother to John, and of the same formidable weight and size. The race was rowed in Malta Harbour, over a 3½-mile course, and we were beaten. We could not understand it; but beaten we were. That night George Glanville came aboard the Marlborough with a bag containing some £300 the money put up to cover the stakes. George came to receive the stakes, and according to custom he brought the cover-money to show that all was above-board. To him came John his brother; and scarce a word was said ere the two big men were fighting furiously, the bag of gold on the deck beside them. They were torn apart with difficulty. Nor could the respective crews be landed together for a long time afterwards. Next year we beat the St. George.

When we lay in Corfu Harbour, the Marlborough was challenged by a crew of artillerymen. It was I think on this occasion that John Glanville headed a deputation to me, asking me to be the coxswain.


"Well, sir," he said, "it's like this here, sir, if you'll pardon me. Yew be young-like, and what we was thinking was whether you have the power of language that du be required."

I said I would do my best. I did. I astonished myself. As for the artillerymen, they rowed themselves right under. There was a little seaway, and they rowed the boat under and there they were struggling in the water.

"What! Yew bain't never going to pick 'em up?" cried John Glanville, in the heat of his excitement.

I also rowed bow-oar in the officers' boat, the second cutter. I was young and small, but I had great staying power. I could go on rowing for ever.

When my leave was stopped—which did occur occasionally—I had a system by means of which I went ashore at night. I lashed a hammock-lashing round the port stern-ring, crawled out of the stern port, lowered myself to the water, and swam to a shore boat, waiting for me by arrangement. Maltese boats are partly covered in, and I dressed in a spare suit of clothes. On one occasion, upon landing, I nearly—but not quite—ran into the arms of the commander.

One night I went ashore, taking a painter and two men. We lowered the painter over the edge of the cliff, and he inscribed on the cliff in immense letters, "'Marlborough,' Star of the Mediterranean." Next morning the whole Fleet, not without emotion, beheld the legend. Another brilliant wit went ashore on the following night and altered the word "Star" into "Turtle." My reply was the addition "Until the 'Queen' comes out." After this exploit I was sent ashore to clean the cliff.

There were numerous horses in Malta, and the midshipmen and bluejackets used to hire them for half-a-crown a day. When the horses had had enough of their riders, they used to gallop down to the Florian Gate, kick them off, and return to their stable. I heard one sailor remark to another, {31} who, sticking to his horse, was bounding up and down in his saddle:

"Get off that there 'orse, Jack, 'e's a beast!"

"He aint no beast at all," retorted Jack. '"E's the cleverest 'orse I ever see. He chucks me up and he catches me, he chucks me up and he catches me—why, 'e's only missed me three times in a hour!"

There used to be very bad feeling between English and Maltese. Both sailors and soldiers frequently lost their lives on shore. The seamen used to be stabbed, and the soldiers were sometimes thrown over the fortifications at night. I have seen a dead soldier lying on the rocks where he was thrown. A party of Marlborough officers drove out in "go-carts" (two-wheeled vehicles in which passengers lay on cushions) to Civita Vecchia, to hear the celebrated Mass on New Year's Eve. The Cathedral was the richest church in Europe until Napoleon confiscated its treasure. Somehow or other, there was a row, and we were fighting fiercely with a crowd of Maltese. A clerk of our party, a very stout person, was stabbed in the belly, so that his entrails protruded. We got him away, laid him in a go-cart, drove back to Malta, a two-hours' drive, and put him on board, and he recovered.

At nine o'clock p.m. the seniors in the gunroom stuck a fork in the beam overhead, the signal for the youngsters to leave their elders in peace—too often to drink. Sobriety—to put it delicately—was not reckoned a virtue. I remember visiting a ship at Bermuda (never mind her name) to find every member of the mess intoxicated. Two were suffering from delirium tremens; and one of them was picking the bodies of imaginary rats from the floor with a stick, His case was worse than that of the eminent member of a certain club in London, who, when a real rat ran across the carpet, looked solemnly round upon the expectant faces of his friends, and said, "Aha! You thought I saw a rat. But I didn't!"

There was no rank of sub-lieutenant, the corresponding {32} grade being a "mate." Many of the mates were men of thirty or more, who had never gained promotion and who never would gain it. I remember an old mate who used to earn his living by rowing a wherry in Portsmouth Harbour. He was then (1862) on half-pay, with seniority of 1820. His name was Peter B. Stagg, as you may see in the Navy Lists of the period. In the Navy List of 1862, Stagg is rated sub-lieutenant, the rank of mate having been abolished in the previous year.

Wisdom spoken by babes was not approved in the Marlborough. I ventured to remark a thing I had observed, which was that the masts of men-of-war were out of proportion tall as compared with the sails they carried; or, in technical language, that the masts were very taunt, whereas the sails were not proportionately square. I said that the masts ought to be lower and the sails squarer, thus increasing the sailing power.

"D—n it! Listen to this youngster laying down the law as if he knew better than Nelson!" cried an old mate. I was instantly sentenced to be cobbed; and received twelve strokes with a dirk scabbard.

It was true that the rig had been inherited from the men of Nelson's day; but it was not true that I had pretended to know better than the late admiral; for, since his death, the ships had become longer; so that, whereas in Nelson's time the masts, being closer together, were made taller, with relatively narrow sails, in order that in going about the yards should not lock, in my time the reason for the disproportion had ceased to exist. Very shortly after I had been beaten for the impiety of thinking for myself, the merchant clippers adopted the very plan I had in mind, lowering masts and increasing the size of sails and thereby gaining a speed which was unrivalled.

I visited Corfu during my time in the Marlborough when that island, together with the rest of the Ionian Islands—Cephalonia, Zante, Ithaca, Santa Maura, Cerigo and Paxo—was an independent State under the protection of Great {33} Britain. In the following year, 1864, the Islands were annexed to Greece. When the Great Powers agreed that a sovereign should be nominated to reign over Greece, it was suggested that, as the integrity of his kingdom could not be guaranteed, he should be provided with a place of refuge in case of trouble. So at least ran the talk at the time. In any case, Great Britain was induced to relinquish these magnificent Islands, which she had won from the French in 1809. Their loss was greatly deplored by the Navy at the time; for Corfu has one of the finest harbours in the world; a harbour in which a whole fleet can be manoeuvred. The Islands, moreover, had magnificent roads, and were furnished with barracks, and in all respects formed an invaluable naval base. Prince William of Schleswig-Holstein was proclaimed King George I of Greece on 30th March, 1863. The late King was a most admirable sovereign, whose personal friendship I was privileged to enjoy. When I was in Corfu there was a story current to the effect that when Mr. Gladstone came to the Islands on his mission of inquiry in 1858, he delivered a superb oration in the Greek tongue. He was, of course, an excellent scholar in ancient Greek; but modern Greek differs in pronunciation and other respects. When he had finished, the official in attendance, while complimenting him upon his eloquence, observed what a pity it was that Mr. Gladstone delivered his speech in the English language.

As I am writing, it is the fiftieth anniversary of the marriage of the late King Edward with Queen Alexandra, who is still spared to us. I remember that on the 10th March, 1863, the Marlborough was illuminated with a dainty splendour I have never seen surpassed, even in these days of electricity. Every port-hole was framed in sixteen little Maltese glass lamps; the rails and yards were set with them; so that, ports being triced up, and the ship being lit within, she was as though wrought in a glow of mellow fire.

Early in the year 1863 I was ordered home, to my great grief. I was discharged to the Hibernia stationed in Malta {34} Harbour, to await the homeward bound P. and O. mail steamer. Many years afterwards, when commanding the Undaunted, I was tried by court-martial in the old Hibernia for running my ship ashore and was acquitted of all blame. While waiting in the Hibernia for a passage, I learned that the Marlborough had gone to the rescue of a Turkish liner, carrying troops, which had run aground on the Filfola rocks, twelve or fifteen miles by sea from Malta Harbour. I was so eager to see my old ship again, that I hired a duck-punt and pulled all by myself to the Filfola rocks. Fortunately the sea was calm, or I must have been drowned. I found a party from the Marlborough rolling the Turkish vessel to get her off. Each British sailor took a Turkish sailor by the scruff of his neck, and ran with him from side to side of the ship, until she rolled herself into deep water. I had a delightful dinner on board the Marlborough and then I pulled all the way back in the dark to the Hibernia. I was sad indeed that my time in the Marlborough was ended; for, in the words of George Lewis, my old topmate, "the dear old Marlborough was the smartest and happiest ship that ever floated."

I took passage home in the mail steamer, and was appointed midshipman to the Defence by Rear-Admiral Charles Eden, C.B., my "sea-daddy." He very kindly said he wished me to gain experience of one of the new iron ships.


The Old Navy.—The Marlborough was a survival of the Old Navy, in whose traditions Lord Charles Beresford and his contemporaries were nurtured. It was a hard-fisted, free-living, implacable, tragic, jovial, splendid Service; it was England at her valorous best.

The present generation hardly realises that the naval cadets, who, like Lord Charles Beresford, entered the Service in the mid-nineteenth century, were taught their business by the men who had served with Nelson. The admirals and old seamen of fifty years' service who are alive to-day, therefore represent the direct link between Nelson's time and our {35} own. When they entered the Navy, many of the admirals and the elder seamen had actually fought under Nelson, and the Service was in all essentials what it was at Trafalgar. Admiral of the Fleet Sir Edward Seymour relates (in My Naval Career) that as a cadet he often talked with Master-Commander G. Allen, who saw Nelson embark from the sally-port at Portsmouth for Trafalgar.

The change from sails to steam was just beginning. Never again will the Royal Navy be administered by men who were brought up in that stern school, which produced a type of men unique in history.

The time-honoured divisions of the Fleet into Red, White and Blue were still in use while Lord Charles Beresford was a midshipman. They were abolished by an Order in Council of 9th July, 1864.

In the year 1858-9 there was only one admiral of the Fleet, Sir John West, K.C.B. He entered the Navy in 1788, as a "first-class Volunteer," as a naval cadet was then called. West served on the coast of Guinea, in the West Indies, Newfoundland and the Channel in the Pomona. He was midshipman in the Salisbury, 50, and the London, 98, and was in the Hebe, Captain Alexander Hood. He was lieutenant in the Royal George, Captain Domett. He was present at the action of Île de Groix of the 23rd June, 1795, under Lord Bridport. He was promoted to captain in 1796. In 1807, commanding the Excellent, 74, he was engaged off Catalonia, helping the Spaniards to defend the citadel of Rosas, which was besieged by 5000 French. He was promoted to rear-admiral in 1819, and to admiral of the White in 1841.

Here was an instance of an officer becoming a captain at the age of 22, after no more than eight years' service; remaining a captain for 23 years; and a rear-admiral for 22 years; and in 1859 he was still alive as an admiral of the Fleet, being then 85 years of age.

The Board of Admiralty in 1858-9 consisted of: the Right Hon. Sir John Somerset Pakington, Bart., M.P.; Vice-Admiral William Fanshawe Martin, who entered the {36} Navy in 1814; Vice-Admiral the Hon. Sir Richard Saunders Dundas, K.C.B., who entered the Royal Naval College in 1814; Rear-Admiral Sir Alexander Milne, K.C.B., who entered the Royal Naval College in 1817; and the Right Hon. Lord Loraine, M.P.

A very brief survey of the services of the admirals of the Red, White and Blue shows that they derived directly from the French wars and the time of Nelson.

Admiral of the Red Sir William Hall Gage, G.C.H., had been acting-lieutenant of the Minerva, when she bore the broad pennant of Commodore Nelson; had fought in the battle of St. Vincent under Sir John Jervis; and commanded the Indus under Sir Edward Pellew in the action off Toulon of 13th February, 1814.

Admiral of the Red Sir Edward Durnford King, K.G.H., in command of the Endymion, watched 26 sail of the line and nine frigates put into Cadiz on 16th April, 1805, and carried the information to Vice-Admiral Collingwood, who was cruising off Gibraltar with four ships. He had the ill-luck to be detailed for special service at Gibraltar on Trafalgar Day.

Admiral Sir George Mundy, K.C.B., fought in the battles of St. Vincent and of the Nile, and had a deal of other distinguished fighting service in his record.

Then there was Admiral of the Red the Right Hon. Thomas, Earl of Dundonald, G.C.B., whose skill in privateering amounted to genius. As Lord Cochrane, commanding in 1800 the Speedy sloop, 14 guns and 54 men, he captured in one year and two months 33 vessels containing 128 guns and 533 men. Among other spirited exploits, he boarded and carried the Spaniard El Gamo, 32 guns, 319 men. Falling under the displeasure of the politicians, his rank and his seat in Parliament were forfeited. In 1818, he accepted the chief command of the Chilian Navy, then of the Brazilian Navy, and then entered the Greek naval service. King William the Fourth upon his succession reinstated Dundonald in his rank in the Royal Navy.

Admiral of the Red Sir William Parker, Bart, G.C.B., {37} went with Nelson in pursuit of the French Fleet to the West Indies and back in 1805.

Admiral of the White Sir Lucius Curtis, Bart, C.B., served in the Mediterranean in 1804 and 1805.

Admiral of the White Sir John Louis, Bart., served in the Mediterranean in 1804.

Admiral of the White John Ayscough was flag-lieutenant in the Queen Charlotte, Lord Rowe's flagship, in the Channel in 1797; he afterwards served with distinction in Holland, Quiberon, Cadiz, Egypt, the West Indies; and, with two frigates and some sloops, protected Sicily against the invasion of Joachim Murat.

Admiral of the Blue Sir Edward Chetham Strode, K.C.B., K.C.H., served under Lord Hood in the Victory in the Mediterranean, taking part in the evacuation of Toulon, in the sieges of St. Fiorenza, Bastia and Calvi, in Corsica. In August, 1794, he was lieutenant in the Agamemnon, commanded by Nelson. He performed much distinguished service until, in 1841, he attained flag rank and went on half-pay.

Admiral of the Blue William Bowles, C.B., entered the Navy in 1796, was employed in the Channel and off Cadiz, in the North Sea, West Indies, and North American station. In command of the Zebra bomb, he went with Lord Gambier to Copenhagen. In 1813, and again in 1816, he performed excellent service in protecting British trade in Rio la Plata and the neighbouring coasts.

Admiral of the Blue James Whitley Deans Dundas, C.B., entered the Navy in 1799, took part in the blockade of Alexandria in 1800, and served with distinction in the North Sea, Baltic and Mediterranean.

Admiral of the Blue Henry Hope, C.B., took part in the blockade of Alexandria in 1800, and served in the Mediterranean.

Admiral of the Blue the Hon. Sir Fleetwood Broughton Reynolds Pellew performed long and gallant fighting services in the Dutch East Indies.

Admiral of the Blue Sir Charles Napier, K.C.B., etc. etc., {38} had a most distinguished fighting record in the West Indies and on the coast of Syria. In 1841 he represented Marylebone in Parliament, in which respect, as in others, his career resembled that of Lord Charles Beresford.

In 1854, Sir Charles Napier was appointed to the command of the great fleet which sailed for the Baltic in the spring of that year. Admiral Penrose Fitzgerald, who received his nomination to the Navy from Sir Charles Napier, and who served in the second Baltic expedition of the following year, makes some instructive observations in respect of the treatment of Sir Charles Napier by the authorities.

"... The issue was really decided in the Black Sea, and both Baltic expeditions were, practically speaking, failures. The admirals were told by the Government that they were not to attack stone forts with their wooden ships, and were then censured by the same Government for doing nothing, when there was really nothing else to do. Sir Charles Napier, who commanded the British Baltic fleet in the summer of 1854, was shamefully treated by the politicians, and, being a hot tempered old gentleman, he couldn't stand it. He got into Parliament as member for Southwark and gave them back as good as they gave.... It was the old story—the politicians shunting the blame on to the soldiers or the sailors when they fail to achieve such success as is expected of them, but quite ready to take credit to themselves for their magnificent strategy and foresight when it turns out the other way.... When Sir Charles was peremptorily ordered to haul down his flag, as a punishment for not disobeying orders, he was superseded in command by Admiral Dundas, who had been a Lord of the Admiralty in 1854...."

Sir Charles Napier requested the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, to grant an inquiry into his case. He then addressed the following letter to Lord Palmerston:—"I sent your Lordship my case, which I requested you to lay before the Cabinet, but you have not favoured me with a reply. I am aware of the various occupations of your Lordship, but {39} still there ought to be some consideration for an old officer who has served his country faithfully, and who has held an important command. Had my papers been examined by your Cabinet, and justice done, instead of dismissing me, and appointing one of the Lords of the Admiralty my successor, you would have dismissed Sir James Graham and his Admiralty, for treachery to me." (Life of Sir Charles Napier, by General Elers Napier. Quoted by Admiral Penrose Fitzgerald, in Memories of the Sea.)

Sir Charles Napier, remarks Admiral Fitzgerald, "thus gave his wary enemies a chance of accusing him of disrespect towards those in authority."

Admiral of the Blue Phipps Hornby, C.B., was promoted acting-lieutenant from the Victory, flagship of Lord Nelson, to the Excellent, 74. As captain of the Volage, 22, he received a gold medal from the Admiralty for gallant conduct in the action off Lissa of March, 1811, when a British squadron of 156 guns and 859 men defeated after six hours' action a Franco-Venetian force of 284 guns and 2655 men.

Such is the tale of the admirals of the Red, White and Blue in the year 1858-9. Several of them had actually served in Nelson's ships; the most of them had served under Nelson's command, when Lord Charles Beresford joined the Navy.

In the same year, the number of officers receiving pensions for wounds on service was 104.

  Admirals . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
  Vice-admirals  . . . . . . . . . .  10
  Rear-admirals  . . . . . . . . . .   4
  Captains . . . . . . . . . . . . .  27
  Commanders . . . . . . . . . . . .  22
  Lieutenants  . . . . . . . . . . .  24
  Masters  . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
  Surgeons . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
  Mates  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
  Second masters . . . . . . . . . .   1
  Paymasters . . . . . . . . . . . .   5


The total number of men in the Royal Navy in 1858-9 was 53,700: 38,700 seamen, 15,000 Marines. In 1912-13, the total number was 137,500: 118,700 seamen, 15,800 Marines. In 1810, the number of seamen and Marines was 145,000: 113,600 seamen, 31,400 Marines.



I did not like the Defence. I thought her a dreadful ship. After the immaculate decks, the glittering perfection, the spirit and fire and pride of the Marlborough, the "flagship of the world," I was condemned to a slovenly, unhandy, tin kettle which could not sail without steam; which had not even any royal-masts; and which took minutes instead of seconds to cross topgallant yards, a disgusting spectacle to a midshipman of the Marlborough. Instead of the splendid sun and blue waters of the Mediterranean, there were the cold skies and the dirty seas of the Channel. I wrote to my father asking him to remove me from the Navy.

The Defence was one of the iron-built, or iron-cased, armoured, heavily rigged, steam-driven, broadside-fire vessels launched from 1860 to 1866. They represented the transition from the Old Navy to the New, inasmuch as they retained large sailing powers and broadside fire, combining with these traditional elements, iron construction and steam propulsion. They were the Warrior, Black Prince, Defence, Resistance, Hector, Valiant, Achilles, Minotaur, Agincourt, and Northumberland. The Defence, launched in 1861, was (in modern terms) of 6270 tons displacement, 2540 h.p., 11.6 knots speed, carried 22 guns, and had a complement of 450 men. She was commanded by Captain Augustus Phillimore, and was one of the Channel Squadron, which, in the year 1863, was commanded by Rear-Admiral Robert Smart, K.H.



    Rate      H.P.      Name        Guns  Tons   Com. Officer   Complement

  2nd       S.  800   Revenge (Flag) 73   3322   Capt. Charles     800
    ship    S. 1250   Warrior        70   6109   Capt. Hon. A.     704
                                                  A. Cochrane,
      "     S. 1250   Black Prince   40   6109   Capt. J. F. A.    704
      "     S.  600   Defence        16   3720   Capt. Augustus    457
      "     S.  600   Resistance     16   3710   Capt. W. C.       457
  Gunboat   S.   60   Trinculo        2    ---   Tender to          24

The Channel Squadron at that time was employed in cruising round the coasts of the British Isles, in order to familiarise people on shore with the Fleet. In later life it fell to me, as commander-in-chief, to conduct similar cruises, of whose object I thoroughly approve.

The Warrior and Black Prince, in particular, were stately and noble vessels whose beauty was a delight to behold. Their great spread of sail, their long hulls and yacht bows, the vast expanse of flush wooden decks, their solidity and grace, set them among the finest ships ever built.

I was somewhat consoled in the Defence by being placed in charge of the cutter; in which I succeeded, by a small feat of seamanship, in earning the rare commendation of the first lieutenant. I was about to sail off to the Fleet from Devonport, when I discovered that the yard of the dipping lug was sprung. This was serious, as it was blowing fairly hard. Fortunately, I had one of those knives so dear to boyhood, containing a small saw and other implements; and with this weapon I shaped a batten and fitted it to the yard, woolded it with spun-yarn and wedged it tight. I did not expect it to hold; but, double-reefing the sail, I put off. All {43} the way to the ship I had an eye on the yard, and it held. Of course I was late on board; and the first lieutenant declined to believe my explanation of the delay until he had had the yard hoisted on deck. Then he was kind enough to say, "Well, my boy, if you can do a thing like that, there's hope for you yet." Every little ray of hope is worth having.

But by reason of my love for the cutter, I fell into trouble. In the dockyard at Devonport, there stood a mast newly fitted with beautiful new white signal halliards, the very thing for the cutter. I should explain that, as we were kept very short of stores, stealing in the Service from the Service for the Service, used to be a virtue. There was once an admiral who stole a whole ship's propeller in order to melt the brass from it; and it was another admiral who boasted to me of his brother officer's achievement. Of course, no one ever steals anything nowadays; nothing is ever missing out of store; and no midshipman would dream of attempting to convey signal halliards from the dockyard into his boat.

But I did. I brought an end of the halliard into an adjacent shed, concealed in which I revolved swiftly upon my axis, winding the rope about me. Then I put on an overcoat, borrowed for the purpose. But my figure presented an appearance so unnaturally rotund that a policeman experienced in diagnosing these sudden metamorphoses, compelled me to divest and to revolve, unwinding, in the public eye. He also reported me for stealing Government stores. "Zeal, all zeal, Mr. Easy!"

It was during my time in the Defence that I was so fortunate as to be enabled to save two lives. On one occasion, the ship was lying in the Mersey, and visitors were on board. A party of these was leaving the ship, when their boat was slewed round by the strong tide, and one of them, a big, heavy man, fell into the water. I dived after him. Luckily there was a boat-keeper in the galley secured astern of the ship. He held out a boat-hook, {44} which I caught with one hand, holding up my man with the other.

I received the gold medal of the Liverpool Shipwreck Humane Society, and the bronze medal of the Royal Humane Society. The name of the man who fell overboard was Richardson. More than forty years afterwards, the son of Mr. Richardson sent me a kind letter, enclosing a photograph of his father, who had died in 1882, nineteen years after his rescue.

"My mother," wrote Mr. J. Richardson, "was in very great terror, as my father could not swim a stroke. He was a very fine man, and this made your task you so quickly undertook not any the easier.... The clothes he wore on that memorable occasion were, after their thorough wetting, too small for him to wear again, so they were cut down for my elder brothers, and were called by them their 'Channel Fleet' clothes, and jolly proud they were to wear them too."

The boys' sentiment is pleasing, whether it arose from the exciting fact that Mr. Richardson had fallen overboard in them—a thing which might happen to any gentleman—or from his having in them been picked out by an officer (however junior) of the Channel Fleet.

The second occasion when I was successful in saving a man from drowning was in Plymouth Sound. A string of boats from the Fleet carrying liberty men was pulling ashore, when a shore-boat crossed their bows and was run down by the leading boat. I jumped in and held up one of the passengers; and was again awarded the bronze medal of the Royal Humane Society.

In the Defence, as in my other ships, my Service transgressions were few and venial, as in the case of the signal halliards. My troubles arose from my intervals of relaxation on shore. It is now so long ago that perhaps I may without imprudence relate a sad episode in which I fell under the condemnation of the law, with all that attendant publicity which—as one journalist rather unctuously remarked at the time—is so often worse than the penalty.


"Defence, PLYMOUTH

"MY DEAREST FATHER,—I am writing to you at once to tell you what a sad scrape I have just come out of. On Friday night I was with some other wild fellows on the outside of a cab, pea-shooting, myself the worst, when unfortunately I hit a lady who was leaning on a gentleman's arm in the face. The man chased us and with a good deal of difficulty, caught us; we were then taken to the station-house, and given into custody. The hotel-keeper we always go to, very kindly bailed us for the night. In the morning we went to the station-house according to promise; and were tried; the result was my paying £2, 10s. and costs, or one month's imprisonment, and another £1, or 7 days. The other two got off, no peas being found upon them. You will see all about it in the papers I am sending you. I am writing to you in such a hurry, as I am afraid you might believe the papers if you saw them before my letter. I most solemnly swear to you on my honour that I was quite sober the whole of the day that this took place. And as for behaving unbecoming a gentleman in the Court, I certainly did laugh, but the judge made me, and all did so, as he was chaffing all the time. The reason I did not apologise to the man was because he swore on his oath that I was drunk; which was a lie. I had been dining with Hutchinson (see in the paper), who was giving a dinner as he was leaving the ship. All I drank was two glasses of Moselle. The papers I sent you are Radical so of course they run me down.... All that remains to be said is, I hope you will look upon it as a boyish lark and not as a disgraceful action ... and will you send me 5 pounds as I have but 3 shillings left; and I must have some money to pay mess, wine, etc. etc. So now write soon to your prodigal son,


I received in reply a severe but affectionate reproof from my father.

The gentlemen of the Press took upon themselves to {46} improve the occasion, having first taken care, of course, to describe the affair as a great deal worse than it was. "Let this lesson be taken," says one kind journalist, "it may be a guide and a warning for the future. The days are gone—gone for ever—when the pranks of a Waterford would be tolerated; but while we would hope his follies are lost, we would likewise hope that his manly, frank, chivalrous nature is still inherited by his kinsmen."

Another reporter did me the justice to record that, on being called on for my defence, I said: "I certainly do apologise if I did strike the lady, because it was not my intention to do so; but I certainly don't apologise for striking Mr. Yates." I trust he bears me no malice.

Yet another guardian of public morals observed that "his Worship, in announcing the penalties, called attention to the inequalities of the law, which exacted fines for the same offence alike from the man with whom sovereigns were plentiful as hours and the man whose night's spree must cost him a week's fasting." Had his Worship taken the trouble to refer to the scale of pay granted by a generous country to midshipmen, comparing it with the scale of rations and the price we paid for them, and had he (in addition) enjoyed the privilege of perusing the financial clauses of the letter addressed to me more in sorrow than in anger by my father, he might perhaps have modified his exordium.

As an illustration of the strict supervision exercised by the senior officers, I may record that I received—in addition to my other penalties and visitations—a severe reproof from Captain Stewart, my old captain in the Marlborough.

The Channel Fleet visited Teneriffe. It was the first iron fleet ever seen in the West Indies.

In the cutting-out action off Teneriffe, Nelson lost his arm, and several ensigns of the British boats were captured by the French. Ever since, it has been a tradition in the Navy that the flags ought to be recaptured. A party of bluejackets did once succeed in taking them from the {47} cathedral and carrying them on board; but the admiral ordered their restoration. They were then placed high up on the wall, out of reach, where I saw them. We held a meeting in the gun-room of the Defence to consider the best method of taking the flags. But the admiral, who was of course aware that all junior officers cherished the hope of recovering the relics, issued orders that no such attempt was to be made.

I was invited by an old friend of my father, a religious old gentleman living in Cornwall, to a couple of days' rabbit-shooting. I was overjoyed at the opportunity, and was the object of the envy of my brother midshipmen. Arriving after lunch, I was brought into the great room where the old gentleman was sitting in an arm-chair, with his feet, which were swathed in masses of cotton-wool, resting on gout-rests. Near him was a turn-table laden with books.

"Don't come near me, my boy," he shouted, as I entered. "I am very glad to see you, but don't come near me. I have a terribly painful attack of gout, the worst I ever had in my life. Go and sit down on that chair over there."

With the breadth of the polished floor between us, we chatted for a while; and then the old gentleman, pointing to the table of books, asked me to give him a particular volume.

"Now be very careful," said he.

Full of ardour, delighted to think that I should now escape to the keeper and the rabbits, I jumped up, ran to the table, my foot slipped on the parquet, and I fell face forward with my whole weight upon the poor old man's feet, smashing both foot-rests. The agonising pain shot him into the air and he fell on my back. I have never heard such language before or since. As he rolled off me, he shouted:

"Ring the bell, you —— ——!"

In came the butler.

"Take that —— —— out of my house! Send him back to his —— ship! Never let me see his —— face again!" screamed my host.


So I departed in the dog-cart. It was many a long day ere I heard the last of my rabbit-shooting from my messmates.

A few months afterwards, when I had been less than a year in the Defence, Rear-Admiral Charles Eden appointed me to the Clio as senior midshipman. He said he wanted me to learn responsibility.


The New Ships.—The predecessors of the Defence and her class were wooden vessels plated with iron armour. The first iron-built, armoured, sea-going British vessel was the Warrior, launched in 1860. She was laid down in the previous year, in which Lord Charles Beresford entered the Navy. Several wooden ships (Royal Oak, Caledonia, Prince Consort, Ocean, Royal Alfred, Repulse, Favorite, Research) were converted into armoured ships during their construction. These were launched from 1862 to 1864. For some years the Admiralty built wooden armoured ships and iron armoured ships simultaneously. From 1860 to 1866, ten iron-built, armoured, sail and steam ships were launched: Warrior, Black Prince, Defence, Resistance, Hector, Achilles, Valiant, Minotaur, Agincourt, Northumberland. In 1864 and 1865, five wooden-built, armoured ships were launched: Lord Clyde, Lord Warden, Zealous, Pallas, Enterprise. The Royal Sovereign, launched in 1857 as a wooden line-of-battle ship, was converted in 1862 to an armoured vessel and was equipped with four turrets. She was thus the first turret-ship in the British Navy. The next step was to group the guns in a central armoured battery, and to belt the ship with armour along the water-line. At the same time, more turret-ships were constructed. Earnest controversy was waged among naval authorities as to what were the most important qualities of the fighting ship, to which other qualities must be partially sacrificed; for, broadly speaking, all warships represent a compromise {49} among speed, defence and offence—or engines, armour and guns. The controversy still continues. The disaster which befell the Captain decided, at least, the low-freeboard question in so far as heavily rigged sailing steam vessels were concerned, for the Captain, a rigged low-freeboard turret-ship, capsized on 6th September, 1870. (The Royal Navy, vol. i., Laird Clowes.)

Lord Charles Beresford, entering the Navy at the beginning of the changes from sails to steam, from wood to iron, and from iron to steel, learned, like his contemporaries, the whole art of the sailing ship sailor, added to it the skill of the sailor of the transition period, and again added to that the whole body of knowledge of the seaman of the New Navy. He saw the days when the sailing officers hated steam and ignored it so far as possible; as in the case of the admiral who, entering harbour under steam and sail, gave his sailing orders but neglected the engineer, and so fouled the wharf, and said, "Bless me, I forgot I was in a steamship!"

Admiral Penrose Fitzgerald, who entered the Navy five years before Lord Charles Beresford, describes the transitional period in his Memories of the Sea. Speaking of the Hercules, one of the new central-battery, armoured-waterline ironclads, to which he was appointed first lieutenant when she was first commissioned in 1868, Admiral Fitzgerald writes:—"The Hercules was the most powerful ironclad afloat, in this or any other country. She carried 18-ton guns—muzzle-loaders—and nine inches of armour, though this was only in patches; but she had a good deal of six-inch armour, and her water-line and battery were well protected, as against ordnance of that date. She was full-rigged, with the spars and sails of a line-of-battle ship, and she could steam fourteen knots—on a pinch, and could sail a little. In fact she was the masterpiece of Sir Edward Reed's genius.

"Up to the advent of the Hercules the three great five-masted ships of 10,000 tons, the Minotaur, Agincourt and {50} Northumberland, had been considered the most powerful ships in the British Navy, and probably in the world, and Sir Edward Reed's triumph was, that he built a ship of about 8500 tons which carried a more powerful armament, thicker armour, fifty feet shorter and thus much handier, steamed the same speed, and I was going to say—sailed better; but I had better say—did not sail quite so badly; and it must ever be borne in mind that at this transition stage in the development of the Navy, our rulers at Whitehall insisted that our ships of all classes should have sail power suitable to their tonnage. 'For,' said they, 'the engines might break down, and then where would you be?'" (Memories of the Sea, Admiral Penrose Fitzgerald, chap. xiv.)



I wish I could convey to my readers something of the pride and delight which a sailor feels in his ship. But who that has never had the luck to be a deep-water sailor, can understand his joy in the noble vessel, or the uplifting sense of his control over her matchless and splendid power, born of a knowledge of her every rope and sail and timber, and of an understanding of her behaviour and ability. For every ship has her own spirit, her own personality. You may build two ships or twenty upon the same design, line for line the same, and each will develop her own character. As there are no two people alike, so there are no two ships the same.

What can be more glorious than a ship getting under way? She quivers like a sentient thing amid the whole moving tumultuous lusty life. Men are racing aloft; other men, their feet pounding upon the white decks, are running away with the ropes; the ringing commands and the shouting fill the air; the wind strikes with a salt and hearty sting; and the proud and beautiful creature rises to the lift of the sea. Doctor, paymaster, idlers and all used to run up on deck to witness that magnificent spectacle, a full-rigged ship getting under sail. As for me, I blessed my luck when I returned from the Defence to a sailing ship.

The Clio was a corvette pierced for 22 guns, of 1472 tons burthen, and 400 h.p. The screw was hoisted when she was under sail, which was nearly all the time. She was an excellent sailer, doing fourteen to sixteen knots.


The midshipmen's mess was so small, that there was no room for chairs. We sat on lockers, and in order to reach the farther side, we must walk across the table. One of our amusements in this tiny cabin was racing cockroaches, which were numerous. We used to drop a bit of melted tallow from a purser's dip upon their backs, plant in it a piece of spun-yarn, light the spun-yarn, and away they would go from one end of the table to the other. There was once a cockroach—but not in the Clio—which escaped, its light still burning, and set the ship on fire.

I began in the Clio by immediately assuming that responsibility of senior midshipman desired by Rear-Admiral Charles Eden. I purchased the stores for the gunroom mess, expending £67, accounting for every penny, with the most sedulous precision. We paid a shilling a day for messing, and the stores were to supplement our miserable rations. They were so bad that I wonder we kept our health; indeed, only the fittest survived.

We sailed from Portsmouth in August, 1864. It was my first long voyage. It is curious that the first week of a long voyage goes very slowly, and the rest of the time very fast. I used to keep the first dog watch and to relieve the officer in the morning watch. In the keen pleasure of handling the ship—loosing sails, sheeting them home, reefing, furling, and all the rest of the work of a sailor—I regained all my old delight in the sea which I had lost in the Defence. Keeping watch under sail required unremitting vigilance, perpetual activity, and constant readiness. The officer of the watch must be everywhere, with an eye to everything, forward and aft; while the helmsman handling the wheel under the break of the poop, keeps the weather leach just lifting.

The memory of the continuous hard work of the daily routine, makes the sober and pleasant background to the more lively recollection of events, which were after all but the natural reaction from the long monotony of sea life.

It was my duty to preserve order in the gun-room; and a lively lot I had in charge. One of the midshipmen, a {53} big fellow, was something of a bully. He used to persecute a youngster smaller than himself, and one day the boy came to me and asked what he could do to end the tyranny. I thought that this particular bully was also a coward—by no means an inevitable combination—and I advised his victim, next time he was bullied, to hit the bully on the point of the nose as hard as he could, and I promised that I would support him in whatever came afterwards. He did as he was told; whereupon the bully came to me with a complaint that a junior midshipman had struck him. I formed a ring and put the two to settle the matter with their fists. The little boy was a plucky youngster, and clever with his fists. He knocked out his enemy, and had peace thereafter.

I crossed the Line for the first time. In going through the usual ceremonies, being ducked and held under in the big tank, I was as nearly drowned as ever in my life, being hauled out insensible. We towed out the Turtle, a Government vessel, bound for Ascension with stores. While towing, it is necessary to wear instead of tacking, for fear of coming on top of the tow. But the first lieutenant thought he would tack; so he tried to go about. There was a gale of wind; the ship missed stays, and came right on top of the unfortunate Turtle, dismasting and nearly sinking her. I was sent on board her to give assistance; and I made excellent use of the opportunity to collect from the Turtle's stores many useful little ship's fittings of which the Clio was in need. We took the Turtle into Ascension, where the midshipmen landed, collected the eggs of the "wideawake" gulls, and bottled them for future consumption.

We put in at the Falkland Islands in November. The population consisted of ex-Royal Marines and their families. It was considered necessary to populate the Islands; and we always send for the Royal Marines in any difficulty. There were also South American guachos and ranchers. The governor came on board to ask for the captain's help. The governor wanted a man to be hanged, and his {54} trouble was that he was afraid to hang him. The prisoner was a guacho, who had murdered a rancher, whom he had cast into the river and then shot to death. The governor was afraid that if he executed the murderer, the other guachos would rise in rebellion. So he wanted the captain to bring the murderer on board and hang him to the yard-arm. The captain refused this request; but he offered to hang him on shore, a proposal to which the governor agreed. The boatswain's mate piped: "Volunteers for a hangman—fall in." To my surprise, half the ship's company fell in. The sergeant of Marines was chosen to be executioner. He took a party on shore, and they constructed a curious kind of box, like a wardrobe, having a trap-door in the top, above which projected the beam. The man dropped through the trap door into the box and was no more seen, until the body was taken out under cover of night and buried.

The shooting on that island was naturally an intense delight to a boy of my age. We midshipmen used to go away shooting the upland geese. I managed to bring aboard more than the others, because I cut off the wings, heads and necks, cleaned the birds, and secured them by toggling the legs together, so that I was able to sling four birds over each shoulder. The whole island being clothed in high pampas grass, it was impossible to see one's way. Officers used to be lost in the Falklands. The body of a paymaster who was thus lost was not discovered for eight years. The cold induced sleep, and a sleeping man might freeze to death.

Admiral Penrose Fitzgerald, in his Memories of the Sea, relating his experience as a midshipman in the Falkland Islands, says, "Everybody has heard of the Falkland Island geese, and they may be seen to-day in St. James's Park. The upland geese—as they are generally called—are excellent eating; but there are also immense numbers and different varieties of other geese and these are known as 'kelp geese.' Alas! our ornithological education had been so {55} sadly neglected that we did not know the difference with the feathers on, though we soon found it out, when we came to cook and eat them. All the birds we shot were kelp geese, about as fishy as cormorants; but they were not wasted, for we gave them to our Marine servants, who ate them all and declared them to be excellent. 'Some flavour about them,' as they said."

While we lay at the Falkland Islands a merchant ship came in whose whole company was down with scurvy. When I joined the Navy, lime-juice, the prophylactic, was served out under the regulation; but in the mercantile marine scurvy was still prevalent. It is a most repulsive disease. The sufferer rots into putrid decay while he is yet alive. If you pressed a finger upon his flesh the dent would remain. He is so sunk in lethargy that if he were told the ship was sinking he would decline to move. His teeth drop out and his hair falls off. It is worthy of remembrance that the use of lime-juice as a prophylactic was discovered, or at least largely introduced, by Captain James Cook the navigator; whose statue, erected at Whitby, I had the privilege of unveiling in 1912. Historically, I believe that Captain Lancaster, commanding the Dragon, in the service of the Honourable East India Company in the time of James I, was the first to cure scurvy by administering three spoonfuls of lemon to each patient, with his breakfast.

From the Falkland Islands we proceeded to the Straits of Magellan, where the natives of Terra del Fuego came off to us in boats. They were totally naked, and were smeared all over with grease. It was snowing, and they had made a fire in the boats; and when the sea splashed upon the fire and put it out, they beat the sea in anger with their paddles.

At the convict settlement there used to be a box to hold mails fixed on the top of a pole. The letters were taken on board the next ship passing homeward bound. I posted a letter addressed to my mother, who received it in due time.


We dropped anchor off Port Mercy. It came on to blow a hurricane. We had two anchors down ahead, struck lower yards and topmast, and kept the screw moving to ease the cables. Without the aid of steam, we should have been blown away. Even so, the captain became anxious and decided to put out to sea. We battened down and went out under trysails and forestaysail. Instantly we were plunged into a mountainous sea, and the wind whipped the canvas out of us. We set close-reefed foretopsail. A tremendous squall struck us, we shipped water and were blown upon our beam ends. So strong was the wind that each successive blast listed the ship right over. The captain then determined to run back to Port Mercy. The master set the course, as he thought, to clear the headland; and we steamed at full speed. I was standing half-way up the bridge ladder holding on to the man-rope in a violent squall of hail and snow, the hail cutting my cheeks open, when I saw land right ahead. The fact was that the master had mistaken his course, and the ship was driving straight on shore, where every man would have perished. I reported my observation to the first lieutenant, who merely remarked that it was probable that the master knew better than I did. But presently he too saw the high rocks looming ahead through the smother of snow and spray, and the course was altered just in time. The wind was on the port beam; we edged into it out to sea; and so were able to clear the headland and get under the lee of the land. The first lieutenant afterwards handsomely admitted that it was a good job I was standing where I was "with my eyes open" at the critical moment. It was in the height of this emergency, that I first heard the pipe go "Save ship."

We proceeded to Valparaiso, where the ship put in to refit. At Valparaiso, we were able to get horses, and we organised paper-chases.

It was about this time that the incident of the Impresario occurred. He was conducting the orchestra from the stage itself, being seated in a hole cut in the stage, so that his legs {57} rested upon a little platform below. The refreshment room was underneath the stage, and the Impresario's legs projected downwards from the ceiling into the room, where were two or three midshipmen and myself. The temptation was irresistible. We grasped the legs; hauled on them; and down came the Impresario. Overhead, the music faltered and died away.

From Valparaiso we proceeded to the Sandwich Islands, whence we were ordered to take Queen Emma to Panama, on her way to England to see Queen Victoria. Queen Emma was born Miss Emma Booker. She married Kamehameha IV in 1856. We took the Queen on board with one native lady as her attendant. The natives were devoted to their queen, and they insisted on loading the ship with presents for her. They brought pigs, masses of yams, sweet potatoes, water-melons and other fruit. The pigs were housed forward on the main deck, and the other offerings were piled on the rigging and hammock nettings and about the davit guys, so that the ship looked like an agricultural show when we sailed for Panama.

We sighted a schooner flying signals of distress. The life-boat was called away to go to her assistance. I was in charge of the life-boat. When a boat is called away at sea, the crew of course take their places in her before she is lowered. The whole operation, from the sound of the pipe to the moment the boat touches the water, occupies no more than a few seconds in a smart ship. There was a little sea-way on, and the movement of the boat caused a jerk to the falls, unhooking the safety catch, and dislodging an enormous water-melon, which fell through about eighteen feet upon the top of my head. I was knocked nearly senseless. It was the melon that split upon the impact, deluging me with red pulp; but I thought that it was my skull which had cracked, and that they were my brains which were spoiling my uniform, and I remember wondering that my brains should be so queerly and vividly coloured.

But I recovered from the shock in a few minutes. {58} Boarding the schooner, I found she was short of water. But the remarkable thing about that schooner was that although she carried a cargo of six thousand pounds in Mexican dollars, they had only four men on board, all told—an easy prize for a pirate.

After touching at Acapulco, which was all heat and flies, we landed the Queen of the Sandwich Islands at Panama.

Some years afterwards, I went to call upon her Majesty. In all my voyages, I carried with me a set of tandem harness; and on this occasion, I hired a light cart and a couple of ponies, and drove them tandem. Approaching the royal residence, I took a corner too sharply, the cart capsized, I was flung out, and found myself sitting on the ground in the Queen's presence.

But before we quitted the Sandwich Islands, an event occurred (of which I was the humble and unwitting instrument) which nearly brought about what are called international complications. I should explain that feeling ran pretty high between the English and the Americans in the Sandwich Islands with regard to the American Civil War, which was then waging. It was none of our business, but we of the Clio chose to sympathise with the South. Now that these unhappy differences have been so long composed, there can be no harm in referring to them. But it was not resentment against the North which inspired my indiscretion. It was the natural desire to win a bet. A certain lady—her name does not matter—bet me that I would not ride down a steep pass in the hills, down which no horse had yet been ridden. I took the bet and I won it. Then the same fair lady bet me—it was at a ball—that I would not pull down the American flag. That emblem was painted on wood upon an escutcheon fixed over the entrance to the garden of the Consulate. I took that bet, too, and won it.

Having induced two other midshipmen to come with me, we went under cover of night to the Consulate. I climbed upon the backs of my accomplices, leaped up, caught hold of the escutcheon, and brought the whole thing down upon {59} us. Then we carried the trophy on board in a shore-boat. Unfortunately the boatman recognised what it was, and basely told the American consul, who was naturally indignant, and who insisted that the flag should be nailed up again in its place. I had no intention of inflicting annoyance, and had never considered how serious might be the consequences of a boyish impulse. My captain very justly said that as I had pulled down the flag I must put it up again, and sent me with a couple of carpenters on shore. We replaced the insulted emblem of national honour, to the deep delight of an admiring crowd. The Clio put to sea. We heard afterwards that the American Government dispatched a couple of ships of war to capture me, but I do not think the report was true.

Having landed the Queen of the Sandwich Islands at Panama, as I have said, about the middle of June, 1865, we left the Bay early in July, and proceeded to Vancouver, arriving there in the middle of August. There we remained until early in December.

I was placed in charge of a working party from the Clio, to cut a trail through the virgin forest of magnificent timber with which the island was then covered. I was pleased enough to receive an extra shilling a day check-money. Where the flourishing town of Victoria now stands, there were a few log huts, closed in by gigantic woods. When I revisited the country recently, I found a tramway running along what was once my trail, and I met several persons who remembered my having helped to cut it, nearly fifty years before.

I believe that Canada will eventually become the centre of the British Empire; for the Canadians are a splendid nation, gifted with pluck, enterprise and energy.

The free forest life was bliss to a boy of my age. To tell the truth, we were allowed to do pretty well what we liked in the Clio, which was so easy-going a ship that she was nicknamed "the Privateer." We used to go out fishing for salmon with the Indians, in their canoes, using the {60} Indian hook made of shell. To this day the Indians fish for salmon in canoes, using shell hooks. I made a trot, a night-line with a hundred hooks, and hauled up a goodly quantity of fish every morning. I remember that a party of midshipmen (of whom I was not one) from another ship were playing cricket on the island, when a bear suddenly walked out of the forest. The boys instantly ran for a gun and found one in an adjacent cabin, but there were no bullets or caps. So they filled up the weapon with stones from the beach. In the meantime the bear had climbed a tree. The midshipmen levelled the gun at him and fired it with a lucifer match.

We used to go away into the forest deer-shooting, and on one occasion we were lost for a day and a night. It was at this time that I made the acquaintance of the celebrated Mr. Dunsmuir, who became a mayor and a millionaire, simply because he slept one night in the forest—for the sake of coolness. When he awoke in the morning, he found that he had pillowed his head upon a lump of coal. He subsequently obtained an enormous concession of land from the Government and amassed a huge fortune in coal. Two of our lieutenants put money in the scheme. I wrote at the time to my father, asking him to let me have a thousand pounds to invest in the coal business. But he replied affectionately but firmly that, until I ceased to exceed my allowance, he did not think it right that I should embark in a gambling project. The two lucky lieutenants were eventually bought out by Mr. Dunsmuir for a very large sum of money.

I was very happy in the Clio; but, for reasons, it was considered expedient that I should be transferred to the Tribune. Accordingly, I turned over to the Tribune early in December, by the orders of my constant friend, Admiral Charles Eden. He said it would do me good to serve under Captain Lord Gillford. He was right. It did.



Captain Lord Gillford, afterwards Lord Clamwilliam, was one of the finest seamen, and his ship was one of the smartest ships, in the Service. The Tribune was what we used to call a jackass frigate. She was pierced for 31 guns, was of 1570 tons burthen, and 300 h.p.—not that anything could ever induce the captain to use steam.

Before I joined the Tribune, she had sprung her foremast so she went up the Fraser River to cut a new spar out of he forest. Such things were done in those days. But on the way up she grounded on the bar. Everything—guns, coal, stores—was taken out of her; anchors were got out; and every effort was made to warp her off. Still she would not move. In this desperate pass, when every man in the ship, except one, was hauling on the purchases, it is on record that when the chaplain put his weight on the rope, away she came. The power of the man of God is remembered even unto this day. Then the Tribune sailed up the river, and they cut a new spar, set it up and rigged it, and she came home with it.

Captain Lord Gillford prided himself on the speed of his ship under sail. He had fitted her with all sorts of extra gear, such as they had in the famous tea-clippers. His tacks and sheets were much thicker than was usual; strengthening pieces were fitted to the sails; there were gaffs for topgallant backstays, and extra braces. His order book was a curiosity, Day after day it bore the same entry: "The course. Carry sail." Sailing from Vancouver to Valparaiso, the Tribune {62} beat the Sutlej, another fine sailing ship commanded by another first-class seaman, by two days.

Captain Lord Gillford's orders were that sail should never be shortened without his permission. One night when it was blowing hard I went down to the captain's cabin to ask him if we might take in the topmast studding-sail. The ship was then heeling over. The captain stuck one leg out of his cot and put his foot against the side of the ship. "I don't feel any water here yet," says he, and sent me on deck again. The next moment the sail blew away.

I can never be too grateful for the seamanship I learned on board the Tribune. The captain lost no opportunity of teaching us. On one occasion, for instance, we carried away the starboard foremast swifter, in the fore rigging—the Tribune had rope lower rigging. Captain Lord Gillford, instead of splicing the shroud to the masthead pennants, chose, in order to educate us, to strip the whole foremast to a gantline. We got the whole of the lower rigging over the masthead again. I was in the sailmaker's crew; and another midshipman and myself, together with the forecastle men, fitted in the new shroud, turned it in, wormed, parcelled, and served it; put it over the masthead, and got the fore rigging all a-taunto again. I also helped to make a new foresail and jib out of number one canvas, roped them, put the clews in, and completed the job. Lord Gillford's object was to teach those under him to carry out the work in the proper shipshape manner. The sailmaker's crew, among whom was another midshipman, named Morrison, and myself, numbered 15 or 20 men, including able seamen, and we were all as happy as possible. We were taught by one of the best sailmakers in the Service, who was named Flood. We always worked in a sailmaker's canvas jumper and trousers made by ourselves. I could cut out and make a seaman's canvas working suit, jumper and trousers, in 30 minutes, using the sailmaker's stitch of four stitches to the inch.

I had a complete sailmaker's bag with every sailmaker's tool necessary—serving and roping mallets, jiggers, seaming {63} and roping palms, all-sized marling-spikes, fids, seam-rubbers, sail-hooks, grease-pot, seaming and roping twine, etc. etc.

Morrison and I worked together at everything. We turned in new boats' falls, replaced lanyards in wash-deck buckets, as well as taking our turn at all tricks sailmaker's crew. We put in new clews to a topsail and course. We roped a jib and other fore-and-aft sails. Both of these jobs require great care and practice, and both of them we had to do two or three times before we got them right. A sailmaker knows how difficult it is to keep the lay of the rope right in roping a sail. We used also to go aloft and repair sick seams in the sails to avoid unbending.

Captain Lord Gillford himself could cut out a sail, whether fore-and-aft or square. I have heard him argue with Flood as to the amount of goring to be allowed, and Lord Gillford was always right. It was he who put it into my head to try to teach myself all that I could, by saying, "If a man is a lubber over a job, you ought to be able to show him how to do it, not tell him how to do it."

We were never so proud as when Lord Gillford sent for us and told us that we had made a good job of roping the new jib. Among other things, I learned from the "snob," as the shoemaker was called, to welt and repair boots. In after years, I made a portmanteau, which lasted for a long time, for my old friend, Chief Engineer Roffey; and I made many shooting and fishing bags for my brother officers.

Merely for the sake of knowing how to do and how not to do a thing, in later years I have chipped a boiler (a devil of a job), filled coal-sacks, trimmed bunkers, stoked fires and driven engines.

We used up all our spare canvas in the Tribune; and I remember that on one occasion we were obliged to patch the main-royal with a mail-bag, so that the main-royal bore the legend "Letters for England" on it thereafter.

While in the Tribune, two misfortunes occurred to me on the same day. As we all know, misfortunes never come singly. The sailmaker had reported me for skylarking; and it {64} occurred to me that if he was going to put me in the report, he might as well have a better reason for that extreme action. I therefore rove a line attached to a sailmaker's needle through the holes of the bench upon which he sat. When he seated himself to begin his work, I jerked the line, and he leaped into the air with a loud cry. That was my first misfortune. The second was entirely due to the rude and thoughtless conduct of another midshipman, who, in passing me as I sat at my sailmaker's bench, industriously working, tilted me over. I took up the first thing which was handy, which happened to be a carpenter's chisel, and hurled it at his retreating figure. It stuck and quivered in a portion of his anatomy which is (or was) considered by schoolmasters as designed to receive punishment. I had, of course, no intention of hurting him. But I was reported for the second time that day. I was put on watch and watch for a week, a penance which involved being four hours on and four hours off, my duties having to be done as usual during the watch off in the daytime.

We sailed from Vancouver early in December, 1865. On 2nd January I was promoted to be acting sub-lieutenant. I find that Captain Lord Gillford endorsed my certificate with the statement that Lord Charles Beresford had conducted himself "with sobriety, diligence, attention, and was always obedient to command; and I have been much pleased with the zealous manner in which he has performed his duties."

We arrived at Valparaiso towards the end of January. I continued to discharge my duties in the Tribune until the middle of February, when I was transferred to the Sutlej.

I was as happy on board the Tribune as I had been in the Marlborough and the Clio, and for the same reason: the splendid seamanship and constant sailorising.


The Sutlej was a steam frigate pierced for guns, of 3066 tons and 500 h.p., flagship of the Pacific station. Before I joined her, the commander-in-chief of the station was Admiral Kingcome, who had (as we say) come in through {65} the hawse-pipe. It was the delight of this queer old admiral to beat the drum for night-quarters himself. He used to steal the drum, and trot away with it, rub-a-dub all along the lower deck, bending double beneath the hammocks of the sleeping seamen. On one of these occasions—so runs the yarn—a burly able seaman thrust his bare legs over the edge of his hammock, clipped the admiral under the shoulders, swung him to and fro, and, with an appropriate but unquotable objurgation, dispatched him forward with a kick.

Such (in a word) was the condition of the flagship to which Rear-Admiral the Honourable Joseph Denman succeeded, after the enjoyment of twenty-five years' profound peace in the command of the Queen's yacht.

The captain, Trevenen P. Coode, was tall and thin, hooked-nosed and elderly, much bent about the shoulders, with a habit of crossing his arms and folding his hands inside his sleeves. He was a taut hand and a fine seaman. He nearly broke my heart, old martinet that he was; for I was mate of the upper deck and the hull, and took an immense pride in keeping them immaculately clean; but they were never clean enough for Captain Trevenen P. Coode. In those days we had little bright-work, but plenty of whitewash and blacking. The test of a smart ship was that the lines of white or black should meet with absolute accuracy; and a fraction of error would be visited with the captain's severe displeasure. For he employed condemnation instead of commendation.

There was an old yarn about a mate of the main deck, who boasted that he had got to windward of his captain. We used to take live stock, poultry and sheep to sea in those days. The captain found fault with the mate because the fowls and coops were dirty. The mate whitewashed the chickens and blacked their legs and beaks. Now the poultry in question belonged to the captain. Thereafter the fowls died.

It was the custom for the admiral to take a cow or two {66} to sea, and the officers took sheep and fowls. There is a tradition in the Navy that the cow used to be milked in the middle watch for the benefit of the officer on watch; and that, in order that the admiral should get his allowance of milk, the cow was filled up with water and made to leap backwards and forwards across the hatchways. Another tradition ordains that when the forage for the sheep ran short, the innocent animals were fitted with green spectacles, and thus equipped, they were fed on shavings.

When we put into Valparaiso the Spanish fleet was threatening to bombard the town. Rather more than a year previously, in 1864, Spain had quarrelled with Chile, alleging that Chile had violated neutrality, and had committed other offences. In March, 1864, Spain began the diplomatic correspondence with Chile in which she demanded reparation, which was refused. Chile sent artillery and troops to Valparaiso. The Spanish admiral, Pareja, then proclaimed a blockade of the Chilian ports, and Chile declared war.

The European residents in Valparaiso, who owned an immense amount of valuable property stored in the custom-houses, were terrified at the prospect of a bombardment, and petitioned Admiral Denman to prevent it. An American fleet of warships was also lying in the Bay. Among them was the Miantonomoh, the second screw ironclad that ever came through the Straits of Magellan, the first being the Spanish ironclad Numancia.

When the Miantonomoh crossed the Atlantic in 1866, The Times kindly remarked that the existing British Navy was henceforth useless, and that most of its vessels "were only fit to be laid up and 'painted that dirty yellow which is universally adopted to mark treachery, failure, and crime.'"

The British and American admirals consulted together as to the advisability of preventing the bombardment. The prospect of a fight cheered us all; and we entered into elaborate calculations of the relative strength of the Spanish fleet and the British-American force. As a matter of fact, they were about equal. The Spanish admiral, Nunez, who {67} had succeeded Pareja, visited the Sutlej and conversed with Admiral Denman. It was reported by the midshipman who was A.D.C. to the admiral that, upon his departure, the Spaniard had said: "Very well, Admiral Denman, you know your duty and I know mine." The information raised our hopes; but at the critical moment a telegram forbidding the British admiral to take action was received from the British Minister at Santiago.

So the British and American fleets steamed out to sea while the Spaniards fired upon Valparaiso from eight in the morning until four in the afternoon, setting the place on fire, and then retired to their anchorage outside. The British and American fleets then returned to the Bay, and I accompanied a landing-party to help to extinguish the conflagration.

Five of us were standing on the top of the high wall of a building whose roof had fallen in, so that the whole interior was a mass of burning wreckage, upon which we were directing the hose, when the men below shouted that the wall was falling. We slid down the ladder, and no sooner had we touched the ground than the whole wall tottered and fell inwards.

We put the fires out, but the inhabitants were so angry with us because we had not prevented the bombardment, that they requested that the landing-party should be sent back to their ships. Then the flames broke out afresh. For years the resentment of the Valparaisians remained so hot that it was inadvisable to land in the town men from British ships.

The meeting of the British and American seamen gave rise to much discussion concerning the respective merits of the British and American theories of gunnery. The Americans advocated the use of round shot to deliver a "racking blow"; the British preferred firing a pointed projectile which would penetrate the target instead of merely striking it. When an American bluejacket asked his British friend to explain the new English system of {68} shell-fire, the British bluejacket said: "We casts our shot for the new gun so many fathoms long, and then, d'ye see, we cuts off a length at a time, regulatin' the length required according to the ship we uses it against. For your ship, I reckon we should cut off about three and a half inches."

The Spanish fleet was afflicted with scurvy; and we used to pull over to the Spanish ships in the evenings, bringing the officers presents of chicken, fresh meat and fruit.

Having done with Valparaiso, the Spaniards went to Callao; but there they had a more difficult job; for Callao was fortified, and the Spaniards were considerably damaged by the gun-fire from the forts.

During the progress of hostilities between the Chilians and the Spaniards, the Chilians constructed one of the first submarines. It was an American invention worked by hand and ballasted with water. The Chilians intended, or hoped, to sink the Spanish fleet with it. The submarine started from the beach on this enterprise; but it was never seen again. It simply plunged into the sea, and in the sea it remains to this day.

We left Valparaiso about the middle of April, 1866, and proceeded to Vancouver. On the way, the Sutlej ran into a French barque, taking her foremast and bowsprit out of her. Captain Coode stood by the rail, his arms crossed, his hands folded in his sleeves, looking down upon the wreck with a sardonic grin, while the French captain, gesticulating below, shouted, "O you goddam Englishman for you it is all-a-right, but for it it is not so nice!"

But we repaired all damages so that at the latter end he was better off than when he started.

We arrived at Vancouver early in June, and left a few days later, to encounter a terrific hurricane. It blew from the 18th June to the 22nd June; and the track of the ship on the chart during those four days looks like a diagram of cat's-cradle. The ship was much battered, and her boats were lost. On this occasion, I heard the pipe go "Save ship" for the second time in my life.


We put into San Francisco to refit. Here many of our men deserted. In those days, it was impossible to prevent desertions on these coasts, although the sentries on board had their rifles loaded with ball cartridge. Once the men had landed we could not touch them. I used to meet the deserters on shore, and they used to chaff me. As we had lost our boats, the American dockyard supplied us with some. One day the officer of the watch noticed fourteen men getting into the cutter, which was lying at the boom. He hailed them from the deck. The men, returning no answer, promptly pushed off for the shore. The officer of the watch instantly called away the whaler, the only other boat available, intending to send a party in pursuit. But the deserters had foreseen that contingency, and had cut the falls just inside the lowering cleat, so that the whaler could not be lowered.

While I was at San Francisco, I had my first experience of the American practical view of a situation. Bound upon a shooting excursion, I had taken the train to Benicia, and alighted with a small bag, gun and cartridges. I asked a railway man to carry my bag for me to a hack (cab). He looked at me, and said,

"Say, is it heavy?"

"No," I said, "it is quite light."

"Waal then," said he, "I guess you can carry it yourself." I had to, so I did.

Benicia is celebrated as the birthplace of John Heenan, the "Benicia Boy," the famous American boxer. The great fight between Heenan and Tom Sayers was fought at Farnborough on the 17th April, 1860. Heenan was a huge man, six feet and an inch in height; Sayers, Champion of England, five feet eight inches. The fight was interrupted. Both men received a silver belt. I remember well the event of the fight, though I was not present at it. More than three years afterwards, in December, 1863, Tom King beat Heenan.

From San Francisco we proceeded to Cape Horn, {70} homeward bound. On these long sailing passages we used to amuse ourselves by spearing fish. Sitting on the dolphin-striker (the spar below the bowsprit) we harpooned albacore and bonito and dolphin, which is not the dolphin proper but the coryphee.

We rounded the Horn, buffeted by the huge seas of that tempestuous promontory. On that occasion, I actually saw the Horn, which is an inconspicuous island beaten upon by the great waves, standing amid a colony of little black islands. And off Buenos Aires we were caught in a pampero, the hurricane of South American waters. It blew from the land; and although we were three or four hundred miles out at sea, the master smelt it coming. Indeed, the whole air was odorous with the fragrance of new-mown hay; and then, down came the wind.

We were bound for Portsmouth. And when we rounded the Isle of Wight, and came into view of Spithead, lo! the anchorage was filled with great ships all stationed in review order. They were assembled for a review to be held for the Sultan of Turkey.

We took in the signal containing our instructions, and fired a salute; and then, standing in under all plain sail and starboard studdingsails, we sailed right through the Fleet, and all the men of the Fleet crowded rails and yards to look at us, and cheered us down the lines. For the days of sails were passing even then; we had come home from the ends of the world; and the splendid apparition of a full-rigged man-of-war standing into the anchorage moved every sailor's heart; so that many officers and men have since told me that the Sutlej sailing into Spithead through the lines of the Fleet was the finest sight it was ever their fortune to behold.

In the Tribune and in the Sutlej it was my luck to serve under two of the strictest and best captains in the Service, Captain Lord Gillford and Captain Trevenen P. Coode. I may be forgiven for recalling that both these officers added a special commendation to my certificates; an exceedingly {71} rare action on their part, and in the case of Captain Coode, I think the first instance on record.

Part of the test for passing for sub-lieutenant was bends and hitches. Captain Lord Gillford was highly pleased with a white line which I had spliced an eye in and grafted myself. Knowing that I was a good sailmaker, he once made me fetch palm and canvas and sew an exhibition seam in public.

From the Sutlej I passed into the H.M.S. Excellent, in order to prepare for the examinations in gunnery. In those days, the Excellent was a gunnery school ship of 2311 tons, moored in the upper part of Portsmouth Harbour. The Excellent gunnery school is now Whale Island.

While in the Excellent I had the misfortune, in dismounting a gun, to break a bone in my foot; and although the injury seemed to heal very quickly under the application of arnica, I have felt its effects ever since.

In 1867 I was appointed to the Research, which was stationed at Holyhead, and in which I served for a few months. There was a good deal of alarm felt with regard to the Fenians, who were active at the time, and the Research was ordered to look out for them. With my messmates, Cæsar Hawkins, Lascelles, and Forbes, I hunted a good deal from Holyhead with Mr. Panton's hounds. I also hunted with the Ward Union in Ireland. I used to cross from Holyhead at night, hunt during the day, and return that night.

Among other memories of those old days, I remember that my brother and myself, being delayed at Limerick Junction, occupied the time in performing a work of charity upon the porter, whose hair was of an immoderate luxuriance. He was—so far as we could discover—neither poet nor musician, and was therefore without excuse. Nevertheless, he refused the proffered kindness. Perceiving that he was thus blinded to his own interest, we gently bound him hand and foot and lashed him to a railway truck. I possessed a knife, but we found it an unsuitable weapon: my brother searched the station and found a pair of snuffers, used for trimming the station lamps. With this rude but practicable {72} instrument we shore the locks of the porter, and his hair blew all about the empty station like the wool of a sheep at shearing-time. When it was done we made him suitable compensation.

"Sure," said the porter, "I'll grow my hair again as quick as I can the way you'll be giving me another tip."

We had an old Irish keeper at home, whose rule in life was to agree with everything that was said to him. Upon a day when it was blowing a full gale of wind, I said to myself that I would get to windward of him to-day anyhow.

"Well, Harney," said I. "It is a fine calm day to-day."

"You may say that, Lord Char-less, but what little wind there is, is terrible strong," says Harney.

A lady once said to him, "How old are you, Harney?"

"Och, shure, it's very ould and jaded I am, it's not long I'll be for this worrld," said he.

"Oh," said she, "but I'm old, too. How old do you think I am?"

"Sure, how would I know that? But whatever age ye are, ye don't look it, Milady."




After a brief spell in the royal yacht, I was promoted out of her to lieutenant, and was appointed to the Galatea, Captain H.R.H. Alfred Ernest Albert, Duke of Edinburgh, K.G., K.T.

H.M.S. Galatea had four months previously returned from the long cruise of seventeen months, 24th January, 1867, to 26th June, 1868, during which the Duke visited South Africa and Australasia. While he was in Australia, an attempt had been made to assassinate his Royal Highness, who had a very narrow escape. The pistol was fired at the range of a few feet, and the bullet, entering the Duke's back, struck a rib and ran round the bone, inflicting a superficial wound. A full account of the voyage is contained in The Cruise of H.M.S. Galatea, by the Rev. John Milner and Oswald W. Brierley (London, 1869; W. H. Allen). The Galatea frigate was built at Woolwich and launched in 1859. She was of 3227 tons burthen, 800 h.p.; she was pierced for 26 guns; maindeck, 18 guns, 10-inch, 86 cwt., and 4 guns, 10-inch, 6½ tons; on the quarterdeck, 2 guns, rifled, 64-pounders; in the forecastle, 2 guns, rifled, 64-pounders. The 6½-ton guns threw a shot of 115 lb., and a large double-shell weighing 156 lb. She stowed 700 tons of coal and 72 tons of water. Previously the Galatea, commanded by Captain Rochfort Maguire, had been employed from 1862 to 1866 in the Baltic, and on the Mediterranean and West Indian stations. She {74} took part in the suppression of the insurrection at Jamaica, and, after the loss of H.M.S. Bulldog, destroyed the batteries on Cape Haitien. Her sister ship was the Ariadne, and Admiral Penrose Fitzgerald, who served in the Ariadne, in 1861, writes: "It would not be too much to say that she and her sister ship, the Galatea, were the two finest wooden frigates ever built in this or any other country" (Memories of the Sea). Personally, I am inclined to consider, that fine sailor as the Galatea was, the Sutlej was finer still.

The Duke of Edinburgh was an admirable seaman. He had a great natural ability for handling a fleet, and he would have made a first-class fighting admiral. The Duke's urbanity and kindness won the affection of all who knew him. I am indebted to him for many acts of kindness, and I was quite devoted to him.

The voyage of the Galatea lasted for two years and a half. We visited Cape Town, Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, the Sandwich Islands, Japan, China, India, and the Falkland Islands. It is not my purpose to describe that long cruise in detail; but rather to record those incidents which emerge from the capricious haze of memory. In many respects, the second long voyage of the Galatea was a repetition of her first voyage, so elaborately chronicled by the Rev. John Milner and Mr. Brierley. In every part of the Queen's dominions visited by her son, the Duke was invariably received with the greatest loyalty and enthusiasm. It should be understood throughout that, when his ship was not in company, or was in company with a ship commanded by an officer junior to his Royal Highness, he was received as the Queen's son; but when a senior officer was present, the Duke ranked in the order of his seniority in the Service.


We left Plymouth early in November, 1868, and once more I was afloat in a crack sailing ship, smart and well found in every detail, and once more I entered into the charm of the life in which above all I delighted. We touched at Madeira, where I grieve to say some of the junior officers captured a goat and some other matters during {75} a night on shore; touched at St. Vincent; and arrived at Cape Town on Christmas Day.

At Cape Town, my set of tandem harness came again into requisition. From the Cape we proceeded to Perth. The fact that an attempt upon his life had been made in Australia, was one of the reasons why the Duke chose to pay the Colony another visit.

Upon a part of our voyage to Australia we were accompanied by my old ship, the Clio, and so admirably handled was she, that she sometimes beat the Galatea in sailing. In every place to which we went in Australia and New Zealand, we received the most unbounded hospitality, of which I shall always retain the most pleasant recollections. We were asked everywhere; livery stables were put at the disposal of the officers; we went to shooting parties, and to every kind of festivity.

At Perth I visited the convict settlement; and there I found a relative or connection of the Beresford family, who had been so unfortunate as to be transported for forgery. He appeared to be a most respectable old gentleman, and (with the permission of the governor) I presented him with a small cheque. Alas! incredible as it may seem, the sight of my signature awoke the ruling passion; and my gentleman promptly forged a bill of exchange for £50, and (as I found when I came home) got it cashed.

It was in Perth, too, that I visited a prisoner, a fellow-Irishman, who had been convicted of murder. He had been a soldier, and had slain his corporal and his sergeant. This man inspired me with some ideas with regard to criminals which later in life I tried to put into practice; and also aroused in me an interest in prisons and prison discipline which I have always retained. He was a gigantic person, of immense physical strength, with receding forehead and a huge projecting jaw. He was considered to be dangerous; five or six warders accompanied me into his cell; and they spoke to him as though he were a dog. I looked at the man's eyes; and I was convinced then, as I am convinced {76} now, that his intellect was impaired. Criminal psychology then hardly existed; and although it is now recognised as a science, it must be said that existing penal conditions are still in many respects awaiting reform. Subsequent experience has proved to me that I was right in believing that many crimes of violence are due to a lesion of the brain, and cannot therefore be treated as moral offences. I heard some time subsequently that the Irishman had been shot for the attempted murder of a warder. Perth and New South Wales were the only places in the British Dominions in which there was a death penalty for attempted murder.

I may here mention that in after years I was appointed, together with the (late) Duke of Fife, as civil inspector of prisons; an office which I held for a year or two. I was able to institute a reform in the system then in force of mulcting prisoners of good conduct marks. These were deducted in advance, before the man had earned them, if he gave trouble. A prisoner sentenced to a long term—who usually gives trouble during his first two years—found, when he began to run straight, that good marks he earned had been deducted in advance. I was able to change the system, so that no marks should be deducted before they were earned.

It was after I had been placed in command of the police at Alexandria, in 1882, that I was offered the post of chief commissioner of police in the Metropolis; and I was honoured by a gracious message from a very distinguished personage, expressing a hope that I would accept the appointment; but, as I wished to remain in the Navy, I declined it.

We returned to Australia on our homeward voyage, but for the sake of convenience I may here deal with the two visits as one. At Sydney, I purchased a pair of horses. They were reputed to be runaways, and I bought them for £9 a pair, and I drove them tandem with ring snaffle bits. They never ran away with me—except once. When they came into my possession, I found that their mouths were {77} sore, and I did what I could to cure them. Many a drive I had, and all went well. Then one day we all drove to a picnic. The Duke, who was very fond of coaching, drove a coach. I drove my tandem, taking with me the commander, Adeane. On the way home, the road was down a steep hill. We were beginning to descend, when one of the Duke's mounted orderlies mixed himself up with the traces between the leader and the wheeler. The leader, taking fright, bolted, and the sudden tightening of the traces jerked the orderly head over heels into the bush. Away we went down the hill as hard as the horses could gallop. The next thing I saw was a train of carts laden with mineral waters coming up the hill and blocking the whole road. The only way to avoid disaster was to steer between a telegraph pole and the wall. It was a near thing, but we did it. I gave the reins of one horse to the commander and held on to the reins of the other.

Then I was aware, in that furious rush, of a melancholy voice, speaking close beside me. It was the voice of the commander, speaking, unknown to himself, the thoughts of his heart, reckoning the chances of mishap and how long they would take to repair. It said: "an arm, an arm, an arm—a month. A leg, a leg, a leg—six weeks. A neck, a neck a neck—O! my God!" And so on, over and over, saying the same words. Thus did Jerry Adeane, the commander, think aloud according to his habit. He continued his refrain until we pulled up on the next rise.

"Thank God, that's over," said Jerry Adeane.

Before leaving Australia, I sold my pair of horses for more than I gave for them.

When the Galatea was in New Zealand, Sir George Grey, who owned an island called the Kanwah, gave me permission to shoot there. He had stocked it for years with every sort of wild bird and beast. Indigenous to the island were wild boar and wild cattle, which were supposed to have been turned down there by the buccaneers. I landed early one morning to stalk the wild cattle, with my servant, a pulpy, {78} bulbous sort of rotten fellow who hated walking. He carried my second rifle. We climbed to the top of a hill with the wind against us, to get a spy round. When I came near the top, I perceived the unmistakable smell of cattle; and, on reaching the top, there, within thirty yards of me, were a great black bull and two cows.

The bull saw me. He shook his head savagely, bellowed, pawed the ground, put his head about, and charged straight for me. I was standing in a thick sort of tea scrub which was level with my shoulders, so that I could see only the beast's back as he charged. I thought it was of no use to fire at his back; and, remembering that the scrub was thin, having only stems underneath, I dropped on my knee, hoping to see his head. Fortunately, I was able to see it plainly. I fired, and he dropped within about five yards of me.

I said to my man:

"Well, that was lucky; he might have got us."

As there was no reply, I turned round, and saw my trusty second gun half-way down the hill, running like a hare. I was so angry that I felt inclined to give him my second barrel. On returning on board I dispensed with his services, and engaged a good old trusty Marine to look after me.

I killed six of these wild cattle altogether, and a landing party bringing them off to the ship, there was beef enough for the whole ship's company.

There was a number of sheep on the island, under the care of a shepherd named Raynes, who was a sort of keeper in Sir George's service. He said to me, "You have not killed a boar yet. Come with me to-morrow, and I will take you where we can find one." I said, "All right, I will come at four o'clock to-morrow and bring my rifle." "No," said he, "don't bring a rifle, bring a knife. I always kill them with a knife."

I thought he was chaffing, but I said, "All right, I will bring a knife, but I shall bring my rifle as well."


In the morning he met me at the landing-stage with three dogs, one a small collie, and two heavy dogs like half-bred mastiffs, held in a leash. We walked about three miles to a thick swampy place, with rushes and tussocks. He chased the collie into the bush, and in about twenty minutes we heard the collie barking furiously. Raynes told me to follow him close, and not on any account to get in front of him. The heavy dogs fairly pulled him through the bush. We soon came up to the collie, and found him with an immense boar in a small open space.

Raynes slipped the heavy dogs, who went straight for the boar, and seized him, one by the ear and the other by the throat. The boar cut both the dogs, one badly. When they had a firm hold, Raynes ran in from behind, seized one of the boar's hind legs, and passing it in front of the other hind leg, gave a violent pull, and the boar fell on its side. Raynes immediately killed it with his knife, by stabbing it behind the shoulder. I never saw a quicker or a more skilful performance.

I suggested to Raynes that I should like to try it.

"Well," he said, "we will try and find a light sow to-morrow. A boar would cut you if you were not quick."

On the following day, we got a sow, but I made an awful mess of it, and if it had not been for the heavy dogs, she would have cut me badly; as it was, she bowled me over in the mud before I killed her.

In New Zealand, we went up to the White Springs and we all bathed with the Maories. You stand in the water warm as milk, close beside springs of boiling water, and occasionally a jet of steam makes you jump. The person of one of the guests, a very portly gentleman, suggested a practical joke to the Maori boys and girls, who dived in and swam up to him under water, pinched him and swam away with yells of laughter. The old boy, determined to preserve harmony, endured the torment with an agonised pretence of enjoyment. "Very playful, very playful!" he kept miserably {80} repeating. "Oh, very playful indeed. Tanaqui (how do you do), Tanaqui."

We had an excellent lunch, of pig, fowls, and yams, all boiled on the spot in the hot springs. I saw a live pig chased by some Maori children into a hot spring, and it was boiled in a moment.

In this region I rode over soil which was exactly like dust-shot; the whole ground apparently consisting of ore. We visited the White Terraces, where, if you wrote your name in pencil upon the cliffs, the silicate would preserve the legend as if it were raised or embroidered. Some of the signatures had been there for years. I have since heard that the place was destroyed by volcanic eruption.

We witnessed the weird and magnificent war dances of the Maoris. Never have I seen finer specimens of humanity than these men. When, after leaping simultaneously into the air, they all came to the ground together, the impact sounded like the report of a gun. A party of the Chiefs came to pay a ceremonial visit to the Duke. It struck me that they looked hungry, and I said so. They want cheering up, I said. I went to forage for them. I took a huge silver bowl, and filled it with chicken, whisky, lobster, beef, champagne, biscuits and everything else I could find, and presented it to them. You never saw warriors more delighted. They ate the whole, using their fingers, and were greatly cheered.

It was in New Zealand that I had an interesting conversation with a cannibal—or rather, an ex-cannibal. I asked him if he ever craved for human flesh, and he said no, not now—unless he happened to see a plump woman. In that case, he said he lusted for the flesh of the ball of the thumb, which (he gave me to understand) was the prime delicacy.

Some of the half-caste women were of great beauty. Their savage blood endowed them with something of the untamed, implacable aspect of their ancestry. I heard of one such woman, who, outwardly attuned to every tenet of white civilisation, and received everywhere in white society, {81} suddenly reverted. A native rebellion breaking out, she rejoined her tribe and slew a missionary with her meri—the native chief's badge of office. She cut off the top of the missionary's skull, and used it thereafter as a drinking-vessel. Poor lady, she was (I heard) eventually captured and was executed.




They came to me first in the Galatea, so that their story may fitly be related in this place. Tom Fat the China boy came to me at Kowloon. He was brought to me by his uncle, who desired to dispose of his nephew, for a consideration. The consideration was £5. Lest I should be accused of Chinese slavery—and anything is possible in these days—I should explain that the fiver was not the price of Tom Fat, but was in the nature of a delicate compliment paid to his uncle. Tom was a free boy; he was entered in the ship's books as my servant, at so much wages per month. Not that he valued his wages particularly; he had wider views. He was an invaluable servant, clever, orderly, indefatigable and devoted. I attired him in gorgeous silks, and he bore my crest with perfect unassuming dignity. He kept my purse, and expended my money with prudence, even with generosity. When I wanted money, Tom Fat had plenty of ready cash. I sometimes wondered how it was that he always seemed to be provided with a margin, for I was not conscious of practising economy. The fact was, I was careless in those days, and kept no accounts. It was not until he had been in my service for some years, that I discovered the secret of his wealth. It was simple enough. He was in the habit of forging cheques. Altogether, he forged cheques for nearly twelve hundred pounds. How much of that amount he kept for himself I {83} never knew; but it is certain that a great deal of it he spent upon me. Nor do I know why he did not ask for a cheque instead of forging it. Apparently it was a point of honour with Tom not to ask for money. When I asked him if he wanted a cheque to defray expenses, he usually replied cheerfully that he had no need of it. Certainly he acquired a reputation for economy by these means.

His methods were subtle. He was well aware that I kept no private account book of my own, and that my bankers did not enter the names of payees in my pass-book, but only the numbers of the cheques cashed, and also that the bank returned cashed cheques from time to time. On these occasions, Tom, finding pass-book and cashed cheques among my papers, would abstract both the counterfoils and the cheques which he had forged, knowing that as I should not take the trouble to compare the numbers of the cheques with the numbers in the pass-book, I should not notice that some cheques were missing. He was always careful to arrange that the last counterfoil filled up—at which one naturally looks—should be that of my cheque and not that of his; and he never drew large sums, varying his amounts between £5 and £20, except on one occasion, when he forged a cheque for £50. The Oriental mind is inscrutable; but whether or no Tom considered that he was robbing me; whether, if he considered that he was robbing me, he believed he was justified in so doing; he took the most sedulous care that no one else should enjoy that privilege.

Tom was universally popular. I took him everywhere with me. In his way, he was a sportsman. One day, hunting with the Duke of Beaufort's hounds, I mounted him on a skewbald pony. We came to a nasty slippery place, a bad take-off, a wall to jump, and the road beyond. Tom's pony took it safely. A big, hard-riding guardsman who was coming up behind us, not liking the look of the place, shouted to me, "Is it all right?"

"That hideous Chinaman has just done it!" I shouted back. Not to be outdone by a Chinaman, the guardsman {84} rode at the fence, his horse went down, and he got a dreadful toss. When he got up, he was furiously angry with me.

When Tom had been with me for some years, he came to me and said, "Master, you never give me leave! You give others leave but not me leave. I want leave."

The request was reasonable enough, and I sent Tom to my house in town, there to amuse himself for a week. At the end of the week he did not return. He was reported missing. I advertised for him, offering a reward. The next day he was arrested at the Criterion Restaurant, being one of a party of thirteen (of whom twelve were ladies) to whom Tom was about to play the host.

It turned out that during his week in town, my faithful servant had spent £70. He had also raised money at one of my clubs.

"Lord Charles want twenty-five pounds," he said to the porter, who took him to the cashier.

"His lordship must give me his I.O.U.," says the cashier.

"What thing that?" says Tom.

The cashier explained.

"All-light," says the man of resource, and promptly forged my I.O.U. for thirty-five pounds.

"You said twenty-five," remarked the cashier.

"I tink Lord Charles like little more," Tom replied.

Of course, the cashier sent me the document. When I investigated Tom's transactions, I found a few of his forged cheques in the bank, and I could hardly tell the difference between my signature and his forgeries. The cheque-books were compared with the pass-book, and counterfoils were found to be missing. I took legal action against him, and he was sentenced to five years. Shortly afterwards, when I was in Scotland, I received a letter from the hapless Tom, saying he was dying, and asking me to come and see him. I went at once. I found him in the infirmary, a dying man indeed, with his face to the wall. A Chinaman dies at will. He simply lies down and dies; but by the same {85} token, he can continue to live. So I determined to rouse him. I hailed him in a loud and cheerful voice.

"Tom! Cheer up, Tom! What's the matter? You're not ill. Rouse up."

"Me die, master," said Tom.

"Not you," I said. "Come! Cheer up, and I'll try to get you out of this."

And sure enough, he turned back, became quite well, and I secured his release after he had served a short term. I found him a place in China, sent him East, and never saw him again. When I went to China subsequently, I failed to find him. After his interval of Western service, China took him and swallowed him up. And that was the end of Tom Fat.

He was in my service when, upon the return voyage to Australia of the Galatea, we touched at Mauritius. In that strange island I came across a youthful negro savage. I learned his history from his master, an amiable French gentleman. Punch, as I named him, had been brought to Mauritius by a British cruiser. The warship had chased a slaver, whose crew jettisoned the slaves. They were fettered in chains and hove over the side. When the British seamen boarded the vessel they found her holds empty, except for the odour. In a dark corner was stowed a bundle of rags, into which a bluejacket thrust his cutlass. The rags sprang to life with a yell, and there was Punch with a wound in his thigh, of which he carried the scar to his end.

It occurred to me that Punch would serve me for a groom, and I said so to his master.

"Tiens!" said that gentleman pleasantly. "You shall have him for five shilling."

"Done!" said I, and paid him the money. He did not think I was serious; but he made no bones about ridding himself of his garden-boy.

Punch was the most hideous savage I have ever viewed. He was black as a boot; even his lips were black; his face was seamed with the cicatrices which were the totem marks {86} of his tribe, whatever that may have been; and his countenance was exactly like the countenance of a bull-dog. The scars wrinkled his cheeks, like a bull-dog's jowl. He was densely stupid, and wild of temper. He attacked one of the men on board with his teeth. But he was utterly fearless, and although he knew nothing about horses, he was never afraid of them. He was apparently constructed of india-rubber. Nothing hurt him. When I drove a tandem, it was his duty as tiger to spring up behind as we started. But as my horses started at speed, Punch had not always time to run from their heads to the back of the vehicle. I have known him catch a spoke of the wheel and be whirled into the air, and the wheel to pass over him, without harming him in the least.

At a race meeting in Australia, Punch begged for a mount, and I borrowed a horse, which galloped away down the course, Punch clinging to him with arms and legs exactly like a monkey. He took two big fences like a bird; but at the third, the horse breasted it, fell backwards and rolled over upon his rider. I thought he was killed, but he wasn't. He was not even damaged.

When I went on half-pay, I placed Punch in the stables. The women servants took a fancy to him; but Punch, whatever he may have thought of the women, had no love for the head groom, in whose arm he made his teeth meet. So I found him a billet in a hairdresser's shop, which bore the legend, "Hairbrushing by machinery." Punch was the machinery. I saw him at it, turning a wheel in the window. I never saw him again, and know not what became of him.




We arrived at Tahiti in June, 1869. Here is the most lovely climate in the world. The inhabitants never seemed to do any work, with the single exception of carrying bananas. In this exercise they were extraordinarily expert, bearing enormous weights upon the shoulders, the skin of which becomes hard like leather. I considered myself to be fairly strong; but when I tried to carry one of the masses of bananas under which the natives march swiftly all day long, up hill and down, I found that I was able to carry it only for a short distance, and with difficulty, on level ground. The people were perfectly delightful. We went ashore and lived among them; and it was then that I understood how it was that the men of the Bounty mutinied. The fact was that those discontented mariners could not bear to leave islands so delectable. I do not of course, desire to justify their very reprehensible conduct. All I say is that I can understand the strength of its motive. It was simply the desire to remain in an earthly paradise which inspired the men of the Bounty when they left Otaheite in April, 1789, to set Captain Bligh adrift in an open boat, with the nineteen men who stayed by him, and a small stock of provisions. The captain and his men made an astonishing voyage of nearly 4000 miles, and fetched up at the island of Timor, south of the Malaccas, in the following June. Some of the mutineers were subsequently {88} brought to justice in the year 1792. Six of them were condemned and three were executed. In 1814 it was discovered that ten among the mutineers had colonised Pitcairn Island.

We in the Galatea stayed at Tahiti as long as we possibly could, and enjoyed every moment of the time. One of our amusements was to float down a narrow and swift stream and shoot the waterfall. At a point some little distance from the coast, the stream ran deep and rapid between banks which were about three feet apart. The natives, boys and girls, used to drop into the stream and let themselves be carried down feet foremost to a waterfall, which descended some 40 or 50 feet in a wide pool; and it occurred to me that what they could do, I could accomplish. I watched these intrepid children very carefully, and I observed that they always came to the surface some distance away from the fall. In spite of some dissuasion, I determined to attempt the enterprise. I floated down the stream feet foremost, shot the fall, and the moment I reached the foot of it I struck out under water. I was amazed to find that the water was just like air, or an enormous cauldron of soda water, buoying one up, and I came to the surface without the slightest difficulty. Afterwards I went down head first. The only thing to remember was not to come up under the fall itself. Shooting the waterfall became a popular amusement.

Another of our diversions was surf-playing. This enchanting exercise is performed with the aid of a long board shaped like a wedge. The swimmer takes his board, pushes it before him over the breakers, while he dives through them, then turns, and, leaning on the board, rides back on the crest of the surf. The speed, whatever it may be, feels like sixty miles an hour. It is one of the most exhilarating pastimes in the world.

I remember that we all went to church on Sunday. During the service, the Queen of Tahiti suddenly clapped her hands, whereupon the clergyman desisted from his {89} ministrations, while her Majesty distributed tobacco among the congregation. When it was well alight the Queen again clapped her hands, and the clergyman went on with the service.

We left Tahiti with profound regret, receiving and giving many presents on parting. From Tahiti we proceeded to the Sandwich Islands, where I met many old friends, made during my sojourn four years previously. The American population had quite forgiven and forgotten my boyish freak, which had so agitated them at the time. Our old friend Queen Emma, whom we had taken to Panama on her way to England to see the Queen, had returned. I went to call upon her, driving tandem, as already related. Turning in at the gate, I took the corner too sharply, the wheels locked, and the buggy capsized. In the meantime the Queen, having heard the jingling of the Canadian sleigh bells attached to the harness, came out to find her visitor sitting on the grass at her feet. The horses galloped on and wrecked the vehicle and also themselves. Altogether it was a very expensive drive.





When Lord Charles Beresford visited Nippon (from the Chinese Jih Pun, the place or rising of the sun, changed by English pronunciation to Japan), it was the old Japan that he saw; the Japan of centuries of isolation, inviolate save for the intrusion of the Jesuit missionaries in the sixteenth century, and the little wedge of Dutch traders. It had been the Japan of the Mikado, who was as a god; of the Tycoon, his temporal representative, who, like a man walking the tight-rope above a wood of transfixing swords, maintained a delicate equipoise of power among the feudal seigneuralty, the great Daimios, each lord of his domain and master of life and death over thousands of retainers. It was the Japan of the Samurai, the two-sworded rufflers; of the Ronins, the masterless men, the outlaws, who roved the country in bands, patriotic, ferocious and pitiless. It was still the Japan in which the common people, men and women and maidens, walked naked and unashamed; in which the warriors went to battle clad in armour wrought of tortoise-shell and silk, girt with swords and carrying bows and arrows; in which the life of a barbarian foreigner was never safe from hour to hour, so that he must be guarded by the two-sworded Yaconins, the Government officers, who, knowing the hatred of the Government towards their charges, seldom drew sword in {91} their defence until it was just one blood-stained second too late; in which a fault in honour was instantly expiated by hara-kiri, the fatal cross-cut upon the belly, performed in the public eye, which was justly offended if the incision were so clumsily executed that the entrails protruded. Such, at least, is the ceremonial theory. In practice, the dagger is driven in below the ribs, drawn horizontally across the belly, and up the other side; an operation requiring inconceivable courage.

It is the land of tea-houses and temples, of running footmen and palanquins; where houses and string and handkerchiefs are made of paper; where the people wash themselves every day and their clothes never; where the oldest profession in the world is counted honourable service, and the pictures of courtesans adorn the temples in which the bonzes intone prayers in the midst of games and dances: where the writing is done from top to bottom, from right to left, and keys are turned from left to right, and carpenters draw their planes towards them, and the houses are built from the roof downwards, and horses are mounted on the off-side, and ladies black their teeth. It was a land of immense processional pageants: the processions of the high Daimios, who once a year quitted their ancestral homes with a great train to dwell in Yedo, the capital of the Tycoon, for six months; and returned again, leaving as hostages for their loyalty their wives and children for another six months. The two-sworded Samurai march in front, crying "Shitanirio!" and all the spectators drop upon their knees and hide behind their legs while the long procession ambles by, spearmen and banners and baggage-carriers and palanquins; the norimons, which are the palanquins of the notable, and the cangos, which are the palanquins of the humble.

When the foreigner rode abroad in state, he was attended by the Ward-guards, who marched in front, striking the earth at every step with their long staves whereon loose iron rings were strung, so that their jingling warned the populace to make way.


At night, festivals were celebrated by immense processions filling the streets, in which everyone carried a lighted lantern swaying upon the end of a flexible bamboo, and the lanterns were painted with bats and dragons, and the people wore horrible masks, distended with the monstrous rictus of the devil-gods. In the Yoshiwara, where the women, painted and gilded, sashed and bedecked, sit in a double row, each with her price placarded upon her knee, there were the great priapic processions, concerning which the English works upon Japan preserve a shocked reticence.

In old Japan, the common ideal of the ruling classes was that their country should maintain for ever intact its immemorial laws, traditions and customs; an ideal whose attainment the entrance of the foreigner would render impossible. As for the common people, they had no aspirations beyond the day's work. Japan, in her own view, was complete, self-sufficient and wholly satisfied with a civilisation compared with which the politics of the Occident were of yesterday. The Islands of Nippon were ensphered in holy crystal, whose flawless preservation was the highest duty of a patriot.

Into that rare atmosphere, surcharged with perilous elements, sailed Commodore Perry of the United States Navy in the year 1853. Some fifty years later, Pierre Loti entered Japanese waters in a French warship. "Et nous entrions maintenant dans une espèce de couloir ombreux, entre deux rangées de très hautes montagnes, qui se succédaient avec une bizarrerie symétrique—comme les 'portants' d'un décor tout en profondeur, extrêmement beau, mais pas assez naturel—on eut dit que ce Japon s'ouvrait devant nous, en une déchirure enchantée, pour nous laisser pénétrer dans son cceur même" (Madame Chrysanthème).

It was Commodore Perry who rent open the heart of Old Japan, and her blood flowed. The gallant commodore, anchoring off Cape Idzu on 8th July, 1853, with two steam frigates and two sloops of war, demanded no more than a treaty securing help and proper treatment to sailors shipwrecked {93} on the coasts of Japan. The Japanese Government said neither yes nor no; whereupon Perry gave them a year to consider the matter, promising to return at the end of it with a "larger fleet." And on 12th February, 1854, there was Commodore Perry in the Bay of Yedo with three steam frigates and four sloops of war. After long negotiations, a treaty of amity was signed, including a promise to succour ships in distress, and (above all) opening two new ports. From that moment the isolation of Japan was ended. The door opened but a crack; but into that crack the wedge of commerce, driven by the lust of gain, was thrust by America (1854), Russia (1857), England and France (1858).

In 1859, Mr. (afterwards Sir) Rutherford Alcock, British representative of H.B.M. Government in China was appointed her Majesty's Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary in Japan. His book, The Capital of the Tycoon (London, 1863. Longman, 2 vols.), gives one of the first authoritative accounts of Old Japan presented to the British public. During his three years in that country he was constantly in peril of assassination. In August, 1859, an officer and a sailor from one of the Russian ships lying in the harbour were cut down and slashed to pieces in the streets of Yedo, and a steward was severely wounded.

In the following year the Japanese linguist attached the British Legation was stabbed to death, and two Dutch ship-captains were cut to pieces in Yokohama. The next demonstration of the hatred of foreigners was the murder of the Gotairo, the Regent, Iko-mono-no-kami. His escort was suddenly attacked as it was leaving his castle by some twenty swordsmen, wielding the terrible Japanese two-handed weapon. The hands of the bearers of his norimon were severed on the pole and the Regent himself decapitated, his head being carried away as a trophy.

In 1861, Mr. Heuskin, attached to the American Legation, was murdered. Soon afterwards, one of the Governors (or Under-Secretaries) of Foreign Affairs, {94} Oribeno-no-Kami, who had been especially friendly in his intercourse with the Legations, "died," in the Japanese phrase, "without the effects of medicine." To be more precise, he had committed hara-kiri.

In July, 1861, the British Legation at Yedo was attacked at night by a band of swordsmen, who passed the guards and rushed the building. Mr. Oliphant, who had recently been appointed Secretary to the Legation, was severely wounded. One of the guards, a porter, and a groom, and two of the assailants, were killed outright. One of the assailants was severely wounded, to six of the Legation party who were severely wounded and eleven slightly wounded.

Such were the beginnings of Western influence in Japan. Sir Rutherford Alcock's voluminous account of his three years' ministry reveals a gallant, honest, kindly gentleman sorely perplexed by the ethical problems involved in the forcible interference of one powerful nation in the affairs of a weaker nation, whose sole ambition was to be let alone. Hampered, on the one hand, by the greed and discourtesy of the European traders, and on the other, by the immitigable duplicity and the furtive and implacable enmity of the Japanese, yet singly determined to do his duty to his Queen and country, Sir Rutherford Alcock honourably fulfilled a task of extreme danger and incredible difficulty.

Thenceforward, until the year 1869, the duel between East and West continued with increasing ardour. The whole polity of old Japan was shaken as by the earthquakes which agitate and rend its soil. There were frequent assassinations of the foreign barbarians; the governing classes, which consisted wholly of the military caste, employed every invidious method to restrict trade with Europeans; while the Western nations, on their side, brought their armed strength to bear in the enforcement of treaty rights, which by the same means had originally been wrung from the Tycoon's government. And here it falls to distinguish between the divine prestige of the Mikado, {95} descendant of the sun-goddess, and the temporal administration of the Tycoon, or Shogun. In that dual administration resided a main factor of the extraordinary difficulty of the situation. Both the spiritual and temporal rulers, the Imperial Court and the Bakufu, or Tycoon's Government, were equally inspired by hatred of the foreigner. But whereas the Mikado, dwelling majestically apart, could avoid all contact with the barbarians, the Tycoon was compelled by superior force to negotiate with them. He was thus placed between two fires; on the one side, the Mikado ordered him to expel the foreigner; on the other, the foreigner threatened him with war unless the treaties were carried into execution.

For long the Tycoon, or his advisers, maintained his position with singular address. But no man born of woman could have solved its complications. For the great Daimios, the feudal nobility, held allegiance primarily to the Mikado. The Tycoon could and did detach some of the clans to his side; but the great body of the western clans defied him. The influence of the Tycoon began swiftly to decline. At the same time the Imperial party began to perceive that the expulsion of foreigners had become impossible. The immediate result was the revolt of some of their adherents. Inspired as it was by hatred of the foreigner, it was directed equally against Mikado and Tycoon, and accompanied by expressions of loyalty to both parties.

In 1864 the troops of the Choshiu clan attempted to capture Kioto and to obtain possession of the person of the Mikado. They were defeated after heavy fighting. In June of the previous year, the Choshiu men had fired upon the American ship Pembroke while she was passing through the Inland Sea, and also upon the Dutch corvette Medusa. The French commander-in-chief of the station, Admiral Jaurès proceeded to Shimoseki and destroyed the batteries. In August a British naval force under the command of Vice-Admiral Kuper proceeded to Kagoshima in order to enforce {96} the payment of the indemnity due for the murder of Mr. Richardson, bombarded the town and destroyed the batteries. It was these two actions which for the first time really convinced the ruling classes in Japan that it was hopeless any longer to endeavour to prevent the intrusion of foreign influence.

In 1866 the Tycoon Iyemochi died. In the same year a new and enlarged Convention was concluded with Great Britain, France, America and Holland. In the following year Keiki, very unwillingly, became Tycoon, an office which by this time had become exceedingly insecure. In the same year the Mikado, Komei, died and was succeeded by his son Mutsuhito, a minor. In the following year the Mikado assumed the whole administrative power hitherto vested in the Tycoon, and a new system of Government was promulgated. Followed, civil war and the defeat of the Tycoon, who retired into seclusion. In the meantime the Mikado had invited the Representatives of Foreign Powers to visit him at Kioto.

"That the Mikado of Japan, who claims to be descended from the sun-goddess, and in whose person a peculiar odour of sanctity was considered to exist, should voluntarily invite to his palace at Kioto the Envoys of nations who had hitherto been looked upon as outer barbarians, and intercourse with whom was a profane thing, was indeed a great step in advance. No foreigner had ever yet crossed the Imperial threshold, or looked upon the face of the sacred Emperor of Japan. It was a proof that a new order of things was inaugurated, and gave good hopes for the future" (Adams, History of Japan. Lond., 1875).

But although the Imperial Government perceived the wisdom of accepting the inevitable, the hatred of the foreigner, bred in the blood of the military caste, could neither be dissembled nor controlled; and the attack made upon the British Envoy, Sir Harry Parkes, while actually on his way to the Imperial Palace on 23rd March, 1868, illustrates the condition of affairs. On the road to Kioto {97} and in the sacred city itself, the Europeans had been regarded by the people with a polite and respectful curiosity, nor was there any sign of hostility.

Sir Harry Parkes left the temple of Chi-on-in, where he lodged, to proceed to the audience, with a mounted escort of twelve ex-Metropolitan mounted police, under the command of Inspector Peacock, with whom rode a Japanese officer, Nakai Kozo. Behind these massive veterans rode Sir Harry himself, accompanied by Goto Shojiro, of the Japanese Foreign Department, and followed by Mr. Mitford, Mr. Satow, Dr. Willis, and other members of the Legation. Then came a guard of forty men of H.M.'s 9th Regiment under the command of Lieutenant Bradshaw and Lieutenant Bruce. A native guard preceded the train, and another guard followed it. Just as the policemen were turning the corner of a narrow street, Sir Harry observed signs of confusion, and the next moment a Japanese, his great sword flashing and hewing, dashed round the corner, closely pursued by two policemen. Sir Harry cried out to the soldiers behind him to stop the Samurai. Turning his head, he saw his companion, Goto Shojiro, on foot, sword in hand rushing forward to attack a second Samurai, who was already fighting hand to hand with Nakai Kozo, the Japanese officer who had been riding alongside Inspector Peacock at the head of the policemen. Behind Sir Harry, shots rang out as the soldiers fired at the first assassin. Sir Harry Parkes was suddenly aware of the wild figure of a Japanese warrior, advancing towards him through the press. His face was a mask of blood; in one hand shone a long sword, dripping red from hilt to point; in the other, the victor lifted the bloody head, shorn clean from the shoulders, of his countryman. It was Nakai Kozo. Nakai gave the following ingenuous account of his deed of arms to Mr. Adams, secretary of the Legation, who quotes it in his History, as follows:—

"I saw a man running down the line cutting at one man after another. I jumped off my horse, drew my sword, and {98} rushed after him; he turned and we engaged; he cut me on the head. Then Goto came up and dealt him a blow which felled him to the ground. Unfortunately Goto's sword-hilt, which was of lacquer, slipped from his hands, and I had to cope with the fellow alone. I could only see out of one eye, the other being covered with blood, but I kept chopping at him, and after about ten blows I managed to cut his head off. I then took the head and showed it to Sir H. Parkes."

The soldiers bayoneted the first Samurai, who was still alive when he was finally secured by Mr. Mitford. He was afterwards beheaded by the Imperial Government. But those two desperate enemies of the foreigner wounded thirteen men and five horses ere they were cut down. One of the wounded was a soldier, another a native groom; the remaining nine, of whom two were so seriously hurt that they were invalided home, were ex-Metropolitan policeman to whom the methods of the Samurai must have been startling. These trained fighters wield their two-handed swords, heavy, perfectly balanced, razor-sharp weapons, with an appalling swiftness and dexterity. At a single blow they can cleave a man to the chin, or cut off his head, or lop off a limb.

In May, 1868 Sir Harry Parkes presented his credentials, which had hitherto been addressed to the Tycoon, to the Emperor. On the 23rd was celebrated the Queen's birthday, when many Japanese of high rank, some of whom had never before made acquaintance with a foreigner, were entertained by Vice-Admiral Sir Henry Keppel, commander-in-chief of the China Station, on board H.M.S. Rodney. It was not until November that the civil war was ended by the submission of the rebels. The Emperor then took up his residence for a time in Yedo—now called Tokio—which had been the capital of the Tycoon, and which was henceforth to be the eastern metropolis of the Emperor, as Kioto was the western capital. In the following year, after another insurrection had been suppressed, the great Daimios made their memorable sacrifice, offering their lands and servants to the Emperor; thereby deliberately exchanging their {99} almost independent state for a condition of subservience to the central Government.

Such, in brief, was the beginning of the New Japan; and it was at this stage in its development that, for the first time in history, a foreign prince, in the person of H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh, visited the Mikado.




The Galatea arrived at Yokohama on the 29th August 1869. The Duke with his suite, including myself, went up to Tokio (the old Yedo) and took up his quarters at Hama-go-ten, which had been the summer residence of the Tycoon. The estate marched with a piece of water opening into the bay; here were many summer-houses; and a commodious building equipped for the Duke by the orders of the Mikado. The name was changed to Yen-Rio-Kan, signifying a place set apart for distinguished foreigners.

We were entertained with the most delicate and sumptuous hospitality by this charming people whose courtesy greatly impressed us. Conjurers, acrobats and wrestlers performed for the entertainment of his Royal Highness; whenever we went abroad, thirty two-sworded Yaconins attended us.

The Duke went in state to visit the Mikado in his palace. All along the route the upper windows of the houses were sealed with paper, so that none should look down upon he royal visitor; a precaution only taken in the case of the highest nobility. The Duke, attended only by Sir Harry Parkes, Admiral Sir Harry Keppel and Mr. Mitford (afterwards Lord Reedsdale and author of the delightful Tales of Old Japan), had a private audience of the Emperor, who was presented by his Royal Highness with a diamond snuff-box. {101} Six of us were afterwards admitted to the presence. I remember the dim figure of a young man seated behind a screen at the end of the audience chamber. Many years afterwards, when I again visited Japan, the Mikado, who remembered my former visit, graciously invited me to lunch, and entertained me with the royal sport of catching ducks in a hand-net. The ducks are preserved in the royal gardens, which are charmingly diversified with lawns and running water, and flowering shrubs. As you enter, the ducks rise suddenly, and the sport was to net them as they rose.

As we remained no longer than a week in Tokio, my recollections are few. I was tattooed by the native artificers, to the astonishment of the Japanese officials and nobles; for in Japan none save the common people is tattooed. The Japanese artist designs in white upon dark, working upon the skin round the chief ornament in his scheme; whereas the English tattooer designs dark upon white, using the natural skin as a background. Both methods are beautifully illustrated upon my person.

I witnessed the decapitation of six criminals. The victims stand in a row, their hands bound behind them: each in turn is tapped on the shoulder, when he kneels down, and bows his head. With a single half-arm stroke, the executioner slices through the neck. I also saw a crucifixion. The man's hands and feet are extended and tied to cross-bars, so that he makes a figure like an hour-glass. Then he is transfixed with a spear.

On the 8th September, the Duke returned to Yokohama by sea, taking with him as his guest in the Galatea, Hiobukio-no-Miya, Prince of the Blood, Minister of War, and other high dignitaries, who attended a ball given at the British Legation. On the 16th, the Galatea sailed for China.




From Japan we proceeded to China, touching at Chefoo, Shanghai and Hongkong. Nothing could exceed the princely hospitality of the great British mercantile firms in China. It was then that I learned, what subsequent experience confirmed, the remarkable integrity of the business dealings of the Chinese. The head of the Chinese Bank told me that he never had a bad account with a Chinaman. The Chinese keeps agreements to the letter, quite irrespective of documentary contracts.

From China we proceeded to Manila, then a Spanish possession. My principal recollection of Manila is the extraordinary prevalence of cock-fighting. There was a cockpit in every street; and the sole occupation of the inhabitants appeared to consist of betting upon their birds. One used constantly to meet men walking in the street with their birds under their arms. The cocks were armed with steel spurs shaped like a scythe, and sharpened to a razor edge. I have seen a bird spring up and slice the head of its adversary clean off, and I have seen the chest of a bird slashed open, almost cutting its body in two. The use of the artificial spurs affected the betting, making the fight very much more uncertain and therefore more exciting. For, whereas if a cock uses its natural spurs, the best bird probably wins, an inferior bird armed artificially might gain the victory.


From Manila we proceeded to Calcutta. Upon landing, I met my brother, Lord Marcus, and with him I rode up, together with the staff, to Government House. It is a singular coincidence that when I landed at Calcutta, six years afterwards, on the corresponding date, when I was a member of the staff of the Prince of Wales (afterwards King Edward VII), I met my other brother, Lord William, and rode up with him to Government House.

The Galatea lay alongside the wharf. It was necessary to take the most stringent precautions against cholera. Only one boy in the ship's company was taken ill during our stay. He died inside an hour. But in the merchant ships lying in the port there were many deaths. Men were employed in working parties to push off with long bamboos the corpses that were continually floating down from the Hooghli, lest they should foul the moorings. The bodies used to come floating down with the birds perching and feeding upon them.

We went up country, and enjoyed a great deal of excellent sport. We went out pig-sticking, which is the finest sport in the world; we went out tiger-shooting upon elephants; and riding upon elephants, we shot partridges—a form of sport by no means easy. I remember an irascible old colonel of artillery, who became very hot, and who missed a good many partridges, saying indignantly to the Duke:

"This is all d——d rot. I could shoot more partridges on Woolwich Common."

It was the same peppery soldier who, when one of the members of the staff had fallen ill, went with me upon a visitation to the sick. We found the invalid in a state of extreme agitation, and surrounded with books of a religious nature.

"I think—I hope—" he kept saying, "that I shall be forgiven. I think I shall—I hope so."

"What's he saying? What's he saying?" cried the colonel, who, as often happens to people in hot weather, had become rather deaf.


"He thinks he's dying," I shouted.

Whereupon the colonel, turning angrily to the invalid, shouted,

"You d——d fool, you have only over-eaten yourself!"

The sick man was so infuriated that he hurled his books of religion at the colonel, and sprang out of bed. Next day he was quite well.

Another member of the staff was mounted one day upon a red horse (they paint their horses in India), a wild, half-broken Arab steed, which was giving its rider a deal of trouble. I advised my friend to dismount, and left him. Presently I rode back to find him on foot and alone. I asked him, where was his horse?

"Gone," said he. "Whenever that d——d horse saw a mosquito, it sat down and cried like a child. So I kicked it in the belly and it ran away into the jungle."

We visited Trincomalee, where the elephants built the dockyard. They carried the timber and they carried the stones, and they lifted the stones into position and adjusted them with their feet. The remarkable thing about the climate of Ceylon is its intermittent showers of tropical violence, followed by bursts of sunshine. In the result, you actually see the foliage growing. I remember the extraordinary beauty of the native decorations, which are fabricated of palms and leaves and flowers.

From Colombo we went to Mauritius, arriving there in May, 1870. Here I climbed the famous mountain called Pieter Botte, or, more correctly, Pieter Both.


The mountain is so named after Pieter Both, Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies in the early part of the seventeenth century, and the founder of Dutch power in that region. On his homeward voyage he was wrecked in the bay overlooked by the mountain, which thereafter bore his name. Previous ascents are recorded in the archives at Mauritius, from which it appears that mine was the fourteenth. Admiral Sir William Kennedy ascended Pieter Botte in 1861; he gives an account of his climb in his {105} interesting book, Hurrah for the Life of a Sailor (London, Nash). Kennedy started with a party of fourteen persons, of whom five reached the summit.

At nine o'clock in the morning I started, together with the captain of the maintop, Edward Hele. We took with us ropes, a rope ladder, cod-line, and a small lead. These were all our appliances. We drove to the foot of the mountain and began the ascent at 11.5 a.m. Now the mountain of Pieter Botte is shaped like a church with a steep roof, from one end of which rises a spire. This pinnacle of rock is crowned with a huge, rounded, overhanging boulder.

Part of the ridge was so sharp that we were forced to sit on it and to proceed astride. Then we came to the pinnacle. The ascent was so sharp and difficult that we were obliged to take off both shoes and socks. At one point, I lost my balance, and was only saved from falling backwards by Hele's ready hand. Climbing the pinnacle was far more difficult than scaling the overhanging boulder at the top. At the top of the pinnacle there was just room to stand beneath the overhanging boulder. The only possible method of climbing the boulder was to get the rope ladder over the top of it. Accordingly, one end of the rope ladder was attached to the lead-line. In order to swing the lead, one of us was roped with a round turn round his body, while the other, lying on his back, held the rope while the leadsman, leaning right backwards and outwards over the sheer precipice of some 3000 feet fall, swung the lead. We took it in turns to swing the lead; as we leaned outwards, the rock spread over our heads like an umbrella; and it was an hour and a half before we succeeded in casting it over the boulder. Then we hauled the rope ladder over and made all fast. It was too short, and the last few yards we hauled ourselves up hand over hand. So we climbed to the top, which is a platform of about 20 feet square. It was then 1.59 p.m. We took off our shirts, and waved them to the warships lying far below in the bay, from which we were {106} plainly to be distinguished with the aid of a telescope. The ships each saluted us with one gun. We planted on the summit a flag upon whose staff were carved our names and the names of our ships. When we returned, my brother officers gave us a dinner to celebrate the event.

Hele was eventually promoted to warrant officer. When Hele died, I was able to help his son to gain his education, and he did very well. It was in Mauritius that we went out shooting with the native population; one of the most dangerous amusements in which I have ever taken part, for the bullets used to whistle in the air all round us.

From Mauritius we proceeded to Cape Town. Here, on the 12th July, 1870, the Duke inaugurated the new harbour, breakwater and docks. I kept a team on shore, and used to drive up from Simon's Bay to Cape Town. Every now and then we stuck in a quicksand. On one such occasion I had a brother officer with me; and as he was afflicted with a cold, I took him on my back to save him from wet feet. But I fell with him, and we were both soaked to the skin. Upon another day, when we stuck, I put two of my messmates on the leaders, and they pulled the coach right through. If you want horses to pull a weight out of a tight place, put weight on their backs.

The Colonial Secretary at Cape Town was Mr. Southey. He was a most delightful and sagacious person, and became a great friend of mine. He prophesied in a most wonderful way what would be the future of South Africa.

"If," said he, "we could only get a big man, a master-mind, to come out here, all that I foresee would come true."

The right man presently arrived in the person of the late Cecil John Rhodes, and my friend's prophecies have been most singularly fulfilled.

While at the Cape, we went up country, shooting. Both Dutch and English families were most kind and hospitable to us. Upon one of these expeditions, a member of the staff went out by himself very early in the morning to shoot. Observing some ostriches in the distance, he stalked {107} them with immense labour and patience, and presently succeeded in shooting a couple of birds. When he returned, he complained that it had been very difficult to get his sights on, owing to some high rails which were between himself and the birds. It had not occurred to him that he had been stalking tame ostriches on a farm.

I once rode from Cape Town to Simon's Town and back, between lunch and dinner, galloping the whole distance, with four changes of horses. The distance between the two places is about 35 miles as the crow flies. My errand was merely to postpone the arrival of a visitor who was to come to the Galatea.

The ride, however, showed that I was in good condition. I have always tried to keep myself fit, holding that condition of body regulates condition of mind. Cheery people deserve small credit, because their frame of mind is due to their being right inside. Quarrelsome people are wrong inside.

On our way to England we touched at the Falkland Islands where I visited a relative of mine who kept a ranch. He used bull-dogs to catch his bulls, when he required them for branding. The dogs seized the bulls by the nose and held them while they were lassoed by the guachos.

When we touched at Montevideo, I remember conversing with various persons, who foretold the immense profit which must eventually accrue if the land there was purchased at that time. Their opinion has since proved true. But I had no money to invest; so that the opportunity was only another instance of what might have been.

The Galatea was badly strained in a gale of wind, her deck seams opening so that the water streamed into the cabins beneath. One lieutenant used to say to another:

"How did you sleep last night? It was pretty rough.

"Woke at one o'clock and saw them reefing tops'ls"—meaning that, lying in bed, he could see clear through the seams.

I used my sail-making ability to make a canvas awning {108} for my bed; fitted it with a ridge rope, laced it down and hauled it taut, led a trough from it to take the water into the slop-pail; and slept dry under it.

It was during the visit of the Galatea to Australia that I was made a Freemason; and I have always regretted that I have never been able to devote as much time to Masonry as I should have liked to give to the Craft. The Australian Lodge into which I was admitted was under the impression that I was the most timid neophyte who had ever joined it.

When the ceremony was ended, one of the members of the Lodge said to me:

"You are safely through it. But do you know that of all the men we have had through this lodge, we never had one so paralysed with fear as yourself. You were shivering like an aspen!"

The fact was that during the initiatory ceremonies something unaccountably struck me as extraordinarily funny. The effort to subdue my emotions caused me to tremble all over.

One of our diversions in the Galatea when she was at sea, was to listen to the conversations which used repeatedly to occur between a certain worthy member of the Duke's suite and the old quartermaster. The member of the staff in question had endeared himself to us by his high seriousness. He dealt with the most trifling incidents of life in a spirit of preternatural and wholly sincere solemnity. Supposing that you told him that a common friend had fallen off his horse and bruised his leg, our member of staff would instantly ship a countenance of intense concern.

"Bruised his leg? You don't say so! Good God! Has he indeed?"

"Yes—he's bruised his leg!"


"Has he now? Well, well. Bruised his leg! I hope it's not serious. I do hope it's not serious. Tut-tut! Bruised his leg, you say?"

"It's not serious. But he's bruised his leg."

"I'm delighted to hear it's not serious. But—bruised his leg. I am really distressed."

And so on.

Among other matters, our friend took his family very seriously. One of his ancestors had been an admiral; and it was this distinguished officer who made the link between the member of staff and the quartermaster. The member of staff used to stroll on the quarterdeck in the evening, and fall into talk with the seamen.

"Well, Jones. Good evening, Jones. I suppose, now, you've heard of my uncle, the admiral?"

"Heard of 'im, sir? I should think I 'ad heard of 'im. Ah, he was a man, he was. He could handle a ship, he could—ah, and handle the men, too!"

"Why, where did you serve with him, Jones?"

"Where, sir? Where not? All over the world, sir. Ah, he was a man!"

"I'm delighted to meet anyone who knew a member of my family so well, Jones—delighted, I assure you."

"Knew 'im? Why, sir, to know 'im was to admire 'im, as the saying is. Many a time I've seen the men turn out for to admire 'im, sir.

"Have you indeed, Jones—have you indeed! Dear me. Most interesting, I am sure. I daresay a glass of grog would not come amiss to you, Jones?"

"Wery kind of you, I'm sure, sir. It 'ud be a pleasure to drink your health, and the admiral's too, sir. Ah, he was a man!"

Mr Jones, afterwards, forward on the lower deck, to envious friends:

"Pretty sweet conversation that, mates. I wonder 'oo the b——y h—l 'is uncle might 'a been!"

There was another member of the suite who surely deserves record—the elephant. He was really a member of the ship's company, for he could do, and did, the work of twenty men. He joined the ship in India, when he was quite small, and he grew enormously on board. He lived in {110} a house built aft, and fed upon branches of trees and bran and biscuits and anything he could get. I trained him myself. I taught him to obey the words of command, and he would do anything for me. He would hoist me upon his shoulders with a fore foot, or upon his back with a hind foot. In the dinner hour, when most of the men were below, he used to take his share in working the ship. We slung the rope in a bowline round his neck, and he would clew up the mainsail by walking on till he was told to stop. He was never seasick. He used to balance himself, swaying to and fro as the ship rolled. One night when the midshipmen and I, having supper on deck aft, were called forward to trim sails, the elephant finished the meal for us. He ate everything on the table, put his foot on the plates and smashed them, and squashed the big coffee-tin quite flat. Then he looked at us like a naughty child.

I was the only person who could persuade him to leave the ship or to come on board again when he had been ashore. When we reached home, he was put in a railway truck and directed to the Zoological Gardens. His keeper, a marine artilleryman, went with him in the truck. Elephants have a habit of rolling on their feet and squirming their vast bulk. When the marine was trying to pass the elephant, the great beast unconsciously pinned his keeper against the side of the truck, and against a projecting bolt, which broke the man's rib, forcing it into his heart. He was taken out dead.



In 1871, I was appointed flag-lieutenant to Admiral (afterwards Admiral of the Fleet) the Hon. Sir Henry Keppel, commander-in-chief at Plymouth. His flag was flown in the Royal Adelaide. Sir Harry, as already recorded, had been commander-in-chief upon the China station when the Duke of Edinburgh visited Japan, and had accompanied his Royal Highness upon his visit to the Mikado. It was at Plymouth that I first had the honour of serving under Sir Harry Keppel: a splendid seaman, a most distinguished officer, a fine sportsman, one of the best and kindest of men.

Admiral the Hon. Victor Montagu, who served as a midshipman under Sir Harry, relates in his Reminiscences some interesting actions of his old captain, which I may be permitted to quote. Commodore Keppel distinguished himself by his personal gallantry and skilful leadership in the battle of Fatshan Creek, 1st June, 1857; of which a full account is given in Laird Clowes' The Royal Navy; and Admiral Montagu records his own recollections of the affair:

"During the many years in which I knew him I never once Sir Harry lose his temper, except when the Chinese war-junks beat us back on the first attack we had made on them.... John Chinaman, seeing us retire, took the hint, and began making off himself, which so infuriated Harry Keppel that he jumped up on our paddle-box, shook his fist at the war-junks, some 500 or 600 yards away, and shouted out: 'You d——d rascals! I'll pay you out for this! Man the boats, boys—man the boats at once! The beggars are {112} trying to escape!' I never saw such a rush. At no regatta could men have rowed faster."

Commodore Keppel commissioned the Raleigh frigate, 50 guns, for the China station. Admiral Montagu states that she was "the last man-of-war that ever sailed out of Portsmouth Harbour." Keppel would have none of your steam-tugs. "We ran out with a fair wind with studding-sails set on both sides." Alas! the Raleigh never came back any more. On 14th April, 1857, she struck a sunken rock in the China Seas, near Macao. Keppel's indomitable conduct turned a disaster into an achievement.

"Shortly afterwards," writes Admiral Montagu, who was a midshipman on board at the time, "we descried a French squadron lying at anchor in Macao Roads, with an admiral's flag flying, and, though we were firing minute guns of distress as the water gained on our pumps, Keppel, nothing daunted, called out: 'Up with the French flag. Give him his salute. Sinking or not, let the Frenchmen hear us.'"

A French frigate coming to the assistance of the Raleigh, her captain asked permission "to go below to see how high the water had risen in the ship. 'Oh,' said Keppel, 'don't go below; look down the hatchway.' 'Ah! mon Dieu!' exclaimed the captain." ...

Keppel kept the pumps going, crowded sail on the ship, and finally beached her off Macao, just in time. He landed the ship's company, but himself stayed aboard the vessel, sleeping on the bridge. The stores and guns were saved. Keppel was deeply distressed at the loss of his fine ship, "which," he wrote, "brings my career as a captain to an end." Fortunately he was mistaken. In after years, when I told him that the Admiralty were about to build a second Raleigh, Keppel replied, "Very glad to hear it, my dear boy. I had the honour of losing the first one."

Admiral Montagu records that Keppel, while in command of the Raleigh, challenged an American clipper ship to race from Penang to Singapore. "We were constantly going at a speed of thirteen knots, during heavy squalls, close-hauled, {113} and trailing the muzzles of our main-deck guns through the water on the lee side, and I sometimes used to turn into my hammock in abject terror, fearing that at any moment we might capsize."

Sir Harry Keppel was famous throughout the Service when I was appointed his flag-lieutenant. One of my first recollections of that office concerned an old-fashioned "Eighteen-hundred-and-war-time," peppery, strict-service captain, who, having just come home from the West Coast of Africa, asked to see the commander-in-chief. It happened that Sir Harry and myself were on the point of going out hunting when the old captain called, and the admiral was attired in hunting kit.

"Tell him I'll see him to-morrow," said Sir Harry.

But that wouldn't do at all, nor would any other excuse serve.

"I insist on seeing the admiral," said the captain. "I have just come home and it is my duty to see him at once."

"Bring him in, then," said Sir Harry impatiently, "Now, sir," said he, "my flag-lieutenant informed you that I was engaged. Why couldn't you see the secretary?"

"The secretary, sir? The secretary!" says the old captain wrathfully staring at Sir Harry's informal attire. "Indeed I am told, sir, that the secretary is the Commander-in-chief here. That's what they say, sir—that's what they say!"

"Do they?" returned Sir Harry placidly. "And a d——d good commander-in-chief too!" says he.

When, in later years, I became commander-in-chief, I made it a rule that all admirals and captains should have direct access to myself, no matter how trifling the occasion.

In those days, there was a turnpike-gate outside the town. I was driving a brother officer home late one night, after dining at a house some distance away and when we came to the toll-gate, the keeper was in bed, and all my knocking and shouting failed to wake him up. So I {114} proceeded to heave a large stone through his window. That fetched him; and down he came, grumbling and swearing. I thrust a sovereign—the only coin I had—into his hand to pay for his broken window and the toll. It was bad tactics, for he promptly retreated into his house (with my sovereign) leaving us still on the wrong side of the gate. There was nothing for it but to break the rest of his windows, but still he wouldn't come out. Evidently a surly fellow, unfit to take charge of turnpike gates, an office demanding tact and courtesy; and we thought it well to remove his temptation. So my companion and I wrenched the gate from its hinges and lashed it to the cart, vertically, so that it projected over our heads like a kind of ornamental roof, its weight nearly lifting the mare between the shafts off her legs and making her kick like blazes. Then we drove into Plymouth, gate and all. The gate was reduced to firewood before sunrise. Next day, the town was placarded with vain offers of reward for information concerning "some evil-disposed person or persons unknown who," etc.

At that time, I used to ride steeple-chases whenever I had an opportunity, and kept myself in regular training by hard exercise; a habit which on one occasion involved the commander-in-chief in an alarming rumour. It arose from the trifling circumstance that I had borrowed his overcoat. The Fleet was at Holyhead, to celebrate the opening of the new breakwater by the Prince of Wales; I was just going for a training run up and down that breakwater, when, finding I had no coat, I took Sir Harry Keppel's uniform overcoat. I took it, without thinking, merely because I wanted it. The next thing that happened was that the signalmen in the Fleet reported that the Admiral must have gone mad on the breakwater, seeing that he was racing up and down it clad in a shooting-cap, grey trousers, muffler and uniform overcoat. As my face was almost hidden by cap and muffler, the signalmen were deceived by the gold lace, took me for the admiral, and thought that poor Sir Harry was smitten with insanity.



We used to hunt a good deal with the Dartmoor hounds; and upon a day when there was no run, and everyone was bored, one of the ladies present begged me to provide some kind of sport, kindly suggesting that I should personate the fox, a part I declined.

"You must do something to amuse us," she said.

"Very well, I will," said I.

Among the officers there were an elderly admiral and an elderly general, and I pointed them out to the lady.

"I will get up a race between the two of them," said I.

She bet me I would not, and I took it. I began with the soldier.

Ambling alongside the general, I asked him casually if he had ridden much in his life.

"Of course I have," says he irritably. "What do you mean, sir?"

"Nothing at all," says I. "I thought I would ask. The admiral——"

"What about the admiral?" cries the general, staring suspiciously at the distant and unconscious officer.

"He was saying he didn't think you knew very much about a horse."

The general lost his temper. He swore. He said he would show the admiral what he knew about a horse.

"You can easily prove it," said I; and before he understood what was happening, he had agreed to ride a race. Then I went over to the admiral.

"Do you know what the general says? He says you look like a monkey on a horse," said I; and it was the admiral's turn to swear.

"D——d impertinence!" says he. "I'll race him, and beat him any day in the week." And he continued to use forcible language.

"You can do that," I said, for the admiral was riding one of my best horses.

"If you really want a race, I'll arrange the whole thing," said I. And I brought the two wrathful old gentlemen {116} together, rode with them to the starting-point, gave the word, and off they went as hard as they could pelt. I followed, cheering them on. The general began to draw ahead, when his horse baulked at a soft place. The admiral's horse did the same, throwing his rider upon his neck.

"Get back into the saddle and he'll go through," I shouted, for I knew the horse. The admiral hove himself into his seat, and won the race. He wouldn't have won, if his adversary hadn't baulked.

The members of the Board of Admiralty came down to Plymouth to witness the autumn military manoeuvres. I offered to drive them all in my coach; and they were settled in their places—Mr. Goschen the First Lord, Admiral Sir Alexander Milne, the Earl of Camperdown and Mr. Shaw-Lefevre—when out of the house came Rear-Admiral Beauchamp Seymour.

"Get down!" he shouted. "Gentlemen, you must get down."

They asked him why.

"You don't know that boy," said Seymour. "He's not safe. He'll upset you on purpose, just to say he's upset the whole Board of Admiralty!"

And he actually ordered my guests off my coach, so that they had to go in barouches.

Sir Harry Keppel often came sailing with me in my little yacht. We were out together, when I said to him,

"I cannot weather that ironclad, sir."

"Then run into her, my dear boy," said Keppel placidly.

"All right, sir—obey orders."

I held on, and we cleared the jib-boom of the ironclad by an inch.

Sir Harry had an old friend of his to stay with him, Captain Clifton, a most remarkable and interesting man. In the old days, the passage for the opium trade existing between China and India was taken only once a year—the opium ships running up to China with one monsoon and down to India with the other. Clifton went to the Government {117} of India and undertook, if the Government would permit him to build vessels to his own design, to build clippers to thrash up against the monsoon as well as run before it, and so double the income accruing from the opium trade. The Government consenting, Clifton designed the Blue Jacket and the Red Jacket and vessels of that class, which were the famous opium clippers of the "roaring forties" and fifties.

The Indian Government gave Captain Clifton a lakh of rupees. On his way home, Clifton, touching at what is now the city of Melbourne in Australia, but which was then a small assemblage of wooden shanties, noticed the possibilities of the magnificent harbour. He told me that he could have bought the whole site of Melbourne for a lakh; but on consideration, he decided against the project.

One of my great friends, Sir Allan Young, a brilliant seaman of the old school, commanded, at the age of twenty-four, one of Clifton's opium clippers.

Upon the occasion of the Prince of Wales's opening the new breakwater at Holyhead, in 1873, his Royal Highness was entertained together with a large party at a country house in the neighbourhood. The Prince called to me, and said:

"This is very slow. You really must do something to enliven the proceedings."

"Well, sir," said I, "I will run a hundred yards race with Lord ——. As he is Irish, he is sure to take me up if I challenge him."

Sure enough, Lord —— accepted the challenge, but on conditions. These were: that I should race in full uniform, excepting my sword, while himself should "take his wardrobe from off himself." Lord —— then proceeded to divest himself there and then of his Patrick ribbon, coat, waistcoat, and boots, which he confided to the care of the wife of a certain distinguished Liberal statesman. He dropped his Patrick ribbon into her lap, saying:

"Madam, will ye have a care now of me Jewel, for glory {118} be to God there's no saying what twist this mad one might give me!"

Entirely at ease, with the seat of his breeches patched with stuff of another colour from the rest, and his toes sticking from his stockings, he was wholly unperturbed by the laughter of the assemblage.

Although attired in cocked hat, frock coat, and epaulettes, I had the speed of him, and waited on him. Then the devil entered into me; and when Lord —— drew abreast of a big plant of pampas grass, I cannoned into him, pitching him head first into the grass, not, of course, intending to harm him. But to my consternation and sorrow, Lord ——'s leg was broken below the knee. I put the poor lord into his coach—he had a coach and four-in-hand—and drove him back to his hotel. That excellent and magnanimous sportsman was perfectly unconcerned.

"You hit me a bad skelp, and I am destroyed," said he. "Never mind, they all laughed, anny way."

It was about this period of my life, when, returning from a ball in London in the early morning, I came upon a person selling whelks. He invited me to sup—or breakfast—upon a plate of these delicacies.

"How much do you charge for a plateful?"

"Threepence," said he.

"I'll give you sixpence for every plateful you eat yourself."

"Done," said he.

He finished two platefuls, and had begun a third, when he was overtaken by rebellion from within, swiftly followed by catastrophe.

"That's not fair," I said. "You can't count those two platefuls."

"O my Gawd," he said. "'Ave I got to begin again?"

To this time, too, belong my memories of a certain famous naval captain, who was extraordinarily particular both as to his own dress and the wearing of proper uniform by others. His regard for appearances, however, {119} did not prevent his diving overboard in full and immaculate uniform, including white gloves, to save a seaman. Exceedingly precise in his speech, he owned the singular trait of becoming deprived of utterance when he was angry; and few things made him more angry than faulty attire in the Service.

He was driving with me in a cab towards Plymouth, when we met an old warrant officer, who was wearing a purple woollen waistcoat and green gloves. My friend, stopping the cab so suddenly that the horse slithered along on its haunches, leaped from the vehicle. The old warrant officer, his attention arrested, had halted and turned round. My friend went up to him. Then I perceived that he was stricken speechless with wrath; for, continuing to swallow nothing, as his habit was in these crises of emotion, he tapped the warrant officer's waistcoat and gloves. Glaring at him and still silently swallowing, he turned about and got into the cab. The old warrant officer stood staring with dropped jaw, like a man petrified.

It was my friend who, being asked at a court-martial what he would have done in certain difficult circumstances, replied deliberately:

"If I was where I was not I might have done something I did not do."

In after years, when he was commander-in-chief at the Nore, he was walking along the road to Sheerness, dressed in plain clothes, when a bluejacket, who was slightly intoxicated, lurched against him.

"Man, man," said my friend, with his picked elocution, "do you know what you are doing? Man, you are colliding with the commander-in-chief."

"Ho," returned the seaman, totally unimpressed. "Har you, indeed? Then all I've got to say, is to say you've got a ruddy good billet—an' wha's more, you take care you don't lose it by getting drunk."

Despite of my diversions, I did a good deal of hard work. As flag-lieutenant I was in charge of the signalling, a {120} science which, as it was understood in those days, I mastered completely.

My first independent command was the Goshawk gunboat, to which I was appointed as lieutenant-commander for the manoeuvres and for review in 1873, while I was still flag-lieutenant to Sir Harry Keppel. I had a narrow escape from disaster at the very beginning. Fortunately I noticed that the navigator was going the wrong side of the buoy off Drake's Island, and I was just in time to point out his mistake. I remember my feeling of horror at the prospect of running on a rock in Plymouth Sound in my first command.

The first thing I did in the Goshawk was to get from the flagship a big working party of a hundred men to work at holystoning our decks until they were as clean as a hound's tooth. From that day onwards I set myself steadily against bright-work and spit-and-polish. My objection to bright-work is that you have first to dirty it with brick and oil in order to clean it afterwards. There are certain things in a ship which must be kept bright, and these I would burnish; but everything that could be painted I would paint, and then scrub the paint with soap and water. I remember the shock it was to the commander when I told him to cover the brass rails with canvas and paint it. Under the spit-and-polish system no doubt the men take a pride in keeping the ship bright, but such a process involves perpetual extra bother and worry and black-list, which are quite unnecessary. Cleaning bright-work makes the men's hands filthy at divisions; and after ten minutes of bad weather, the copper turns blue and the brass green, and the whole of the work must be done over again.

At one time the bright-work system was carried to absurd extremes. I have known a ship actually to have a bright cable. I have known another ship with bright hammock hooks. The hatchways of some vessels were polished and decorated with inlay and all kinds of ocean ornament until the ship looked like a lady's boudoir or a transatlantic liner. {121} The custom came in as the old sailing ships gave place to steam ships, when the time hitherto devoted to making a vessel all a-taunto, ropes taut, sail furling and mending and so forth, was given instead to polishing, burnishing and making bright-work shine, until the present system of gunnery and gymnastic training was introduced. Captains and officers used to spend on their ships large sums out of their private income, which very often they could ill afford. "Promotion by paint" was not unknown. A ship ought to be scrupulously clean, but she should have paint wherever possible, and soap and water should replace spit-and-polish.




The following brief summary of political and international affairs is introduced for convenience of reference. It may be skipped by the reader, should he disdain politics.

The Government of Mr. Gladstone, returned to power in 1868, began to disintegrate in 1873. The proximate cause was the Irish University Education Bill, announced in the Speech from the Throne at the opening of the session on 6th February, 1873. Irish affairs have always been the curse of the Liberal Party. But a popular Government would have survived even the Irish University Education Bill, which, designed to please all parties, failed of course to please any. The truth is that, as people soon or late weary of all administrations, so they turned from the Liberal Government. Mr. Disraeli summarised the history of the Government in a piece of invective which has become classic: "You have had four years of it. You have despoiled churches. You have threatened every corporation and every endowment in the country. You have examined into everybody's affairs. You have criticised every profession and vexed every trade. No one is certain of his property, and no one knows what duties he may have to perform to-morrow. I believe that the people of this country have had enough of the policy of confiscation."


The Government were beaten on the Irish University Education Bill; Mr. Gladstone resigned; but Mr. Disraeli declined to take office. Mr. Gladstone was therefore compelled to carry on the Government. Early in 1874 he suddenly appealed to the electorate; which, however, chose to give his opponents a majority. Mr. Gladstone resigned, or partly resigned, his leadership, and plunged into the esoteric joys of a controversy dealing with the doctrine of Papal infallibility. It would seem that a great ecclesiastic was sacrificed, when the young Gladstone chose to give to politics talents which would have won him the Archbishopric of Canterbury.

In Mr. Disraeli's Cabinet Lord Cairns was Lord Chancellor; Lord Derby, Foreign Secretary; Lord Salisbury, Secretary of State for India; Lord Carnarvon, Colonial Secretary; Mr. Cross, Home Secretary; Mr. Gathorne Hardy, Secretary of State for War; Mr. Ward Hunt, First Lord of the Admiralty; Sir Stafford Northcote, Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Duke of Richmond, as Lord President of the Council, led the Conservative party in the House of Lords. The Liberal leader, walking in the Gladstonian shadow, was Lord Hartington.

In 1874 the Bill for the Regulation of Public Worship was passed. In the following year Mr. Plimsoll, by the exercise of that dogged determination and gallant defiance of Parliamentary conventions, by means of which Parliament can sometimes be goaded into acts of justice, forced the Government to pass the Merchant Shipping Bill. Mr. Cross, the Home Secretary, introduced the useful Artisans' Dwellings Bill, which was passed. Upon 25th November, 1875, the Government, at the suggestion of Mr. Frederic Greenwood, purchased from the Khedive of Egypt, 176,000 Suez Canal shares for the sum of £4,000,000.

In the same year, the Prince of Wales, afterwards King Edward VII, went to India, whither he was accompanied by Commander Lord Charles Beresford, M.P., as A.D.C. (Lord Charles was promoted to the rank of commander on 2nd {124} November, 1875.) The Prince received a telegram informing him of the purchase of the Suez Canal shares when his ship was passing through the Canal on the way to India. Lord Lytton was appointed Viceroy of India. In 1876 it was announced that the Queen was to assume the additional title of "Empress of India."

In July, 1875, there was trouble in the Near East, which, nearly two years later, in April, 1877, resulted in the declaration by Russia of war against Turkey. The Mediterranean Fleet was ordered to pass the Dardanelles. In March, 1878, Lord Derby resigned, and Lord Salisbury succeeded him at the Foreign Office. Mr. Gathorne Hardy went to the India Office, Colonel Stanley to the War Office, and Mr. James Lowther became Chief Secretary for Ireland. Sir Michael Hicks-Beach had already succeeded Lord Carnarvon at the Colonial Office.

In the Parliament of 1875-80, young Mr. Parnell began his career. Indomitable, subtle, cold and inscrutable, he speedily became a power. A Protestant in faith, he had his foot on the necks of the Irish Roman Catholic Nationalist members; half an Englishman by birth, he was an implacable enemy of England. Utilising the tactics of obstruction, he succeeded in bringing discredit upon a Government which was powerless to control him and his led captains. He forced the Government to pass a Bill for University Education in Ireland; and as the measure was no better, if no worse, than the Gladstonian scheme which had been rejected, so the result upon the Conservative administration was equally injurious.

Mr. Gladstone emerged from his studies in Papal infallibility to denounce Bulgarian atrocities and the like. But the country declined to become excited on the subject. In the meantime the Russian army was approaching Constantinople. The British Government took public measures of military and naval precaution clearly implying that Russia would not be permitted to occupy Constantinople. Prince Bismarck thereupon intervened, and invited the nations concerned to discuss matters at Berlin. Lord Beaconsfield (he {125} had received his peerage in 1876) and Prince Bismarck were the two most powerful men in Europe. Beaconsfield chose himself to represent Great Britain at the Congress, which opened at Berlin on 13th June, 1878. Lord Beaconsfield returned in triumph, bearing with him "Peace with Honour."

The advance of Russian influence in Afghanistan induced the British Government, in 1878, to dispatch an expedition to Cabul, which was occupied by British troops, and from which the Amir, Shere Ali, fled. Followed, the signature of the treaty of Gandamak by Yakoob Khan, son and successor of Shere Ali; the treacherous murder of Sir Louis Cavagnan, British Envoy, and the greater number of his staff; and the recapture of Cabul by British troops. The true history of the whole affair, much distorted at the time (and since) by political malice, is lucidly set forth in Lord Roberts's Forty-one Years in India, by the great soldier who took so distinguished a part in it.

Another frontier war broke out in 1879. In South Africa, Sir Theophilus Shepstone had annexed the Transvaal; Sir Bartle Frere, Lord High Commissioner, announcing to the Zulu king Cetewayo, that Cetewayo was entitled to a strip of territory claimed both by Cetewayo and the Transvaal Republic, ordered him to disband his army. The advance of British troops was checked by their total defeat by the Zulus on 22nd January, 1879, at Isandhlwana. Lord Chelmsford the commander-in-chief, prosecuted the campaign, defeated Cetewayo and took him prisoner. During the war the young Prince Louis Napoleon, son of the Empress Eugenie, lost his life.

In the meantime, the trade of the country had been profoundly depressed, with the natural result that there was much discontent. On 24th March, 1880, Parliament was dissolved; and the Liberal party were returned with a majority of some hundred and twenty. The Queen sent for Lord Hartington; sent for Lord Granville; and finally, for Mr. Gladstone.


The Russo-Turkish war of 1877 had brought Russia into opposition to Austria-Hungary, thus destroying the alliance of the three Emperors; and although Bismarck made peace between the two Powers at the Congress of Berlin, Russia became estranged from Germany. In order to restore her security, Germany concluded an alliance with Austria-Hungary and shortly afterwards with Italy, which had quarrelled with France concerning her occupation of Tunis. Thus was formed the Triple Alliance. Its counterpoise was the drawing together of France and Russia, in view of whose possibilities Prince Bismarck in 1887 increased the German Army. In 1900 Germany passed the Navy Law, which ordained that the German Fleet should be so strong that any attack upon it would be dangerous to the attacking party.

Nothing but the strength of the British Fleet, which had been largely increased by the action of Lord Charles Beresford in 1888, and again by the naval programme of 1893, and whose organisation had been brought to a high state of efficiency by Admiral Sir Frederick Richards (afterwards admiral of the Fleet), prevented the outbreak of war between England and France at the time of the Fashoda incident in 1897.

The affair caused both nations to reconsider the situation; with the result that they settled all outstanding difficulties; and the Triple Entente of Great Britain, France and Russia balanced the Triple Alliance. Germany, in 1912, added some 70,000 men to her army, while Austria and Italy increased their fleets. By the time the Allied nations of the Near East had declared war upon the Turkish Empire, in 1912, Russia had recovered from the disastrous results of her war with Japan, so that the Triple Entente once more balanced the Triple Alliance. But the war in the Near East, with the heavy losses it inflicted upon Turkey, had opened anew the whole Eastern question. The settlement concluded {127} at the Berlin Conference thirty-four years previously was abolished in a moment.

It has been thought worth while to trace the main developments of European politics from 1873 to the present time; as it happened to Lord Charles Beresford to be a member of that Parliament which saw the triumph of the Beaconsfield policy in foreign affairs, and to be a member of subsequent Parliaments confronted with the emergence of new and sinister international conditions.



The political situation in Ireland at the time when I entered politics was characteristically exemplified in the Kerry election of 1872, in which I took part. It was fought entirely on the Home Rule issue, which had been revived by Isaac Butt when, in 1870, he formed his Home Government Association.

In the Kerry election of 1872, the Roman Catholic hierarchy was opposed to Home Rule. The anti-Home Rule candidate, Mr. Deas, was a Roman Catholic, a local landlord and extremely popular. His opponent, Mr. Blennerhasset, was a Protestant and a stranger to the locality. But because he was a Home Ruler, he was elected in spite of the priests and of the personal claims of Mr. Deas, winning by 839 votes. I may add that he won in spite also of my exertions, which were considerable. I started at two o'clock in the morning with Mr. Harry Herbert of Muckross, and led a band of 350 tenants to the poll. (The Ballot Act was not passed until 18th July of the same year, 1872.)

Having polled the tenants, I was strolling in the street, when I was stopped by one of my grand fellow-countrymen, a huge man of about six feet five.

"Are ye for Home Rule?" says he.

"To hell with your Home Rule!" said I. Whereupon he hit me on the point of the nose, knocking me over backwards, and effectually silencing my arguments for the space of an hour and a half.


The nature of the problem of the land in Ireland may be exemplified from my own experience as a landlord. I came into my property in 1866, and when I returned from the sea two years later, being in need of money, I wrote to my agent, telling him that I intended to inspect the estate. He replied asking me to come as soon as I could, and adding that I should be able to raise the rents all round. I told him to do nothing until my arrival. When I went over, I drove to one of my farms upon which it was proposed to raise the rent. The farm was about 48 acres in extent, situated in the middle of a bog. Here I was entertained by one of the finest old Irishmen I have ever seen, and his three sons. Said I to him:

"I want to talk to you about the rent. I hear that you are paying me only 2s. 6d. an acre, whereas I can get 18s. an acre in the market."

I shall never forget how the poor old man's face fell as he said:

"For the love of God, do not turn me out, Lord Charles, I will give you 12s. an acre sooner than you should turn me out."

And then he told me that he had occupied the farm during 48 years; and in that time he and his sons had raised the original value to 18s. an acre. Of course I told him to stay where he was at the old rent. But by the law of the land I could have turned him out and put in a new tenant who would have paid me 18s. an acre, the increased value being solely due to the exertions of the old man and his sons. Had I been an absentee landlord, it would have been an ordinary matter of business to have instructed my agent to turn the man out and to raise the rent; and that very course was taken in thousands of cases. There was no compensation for tenants' improvements before 1870; and a farmer who did his best for the land, and to whose exertions alone increased value was due, must pay the increased rent or go.

The monstrous land system in Ireland naturally caused {130} the tenants to feel distrust and enmity towards the landlords; for, although not many landlords abused their powers, the knowledge that they could abuse them was alone sufficient to create suspicion and hostility. Again, the great companies which bought land on speculation, exacted rents at the outside market value. A company cannot be expected to make allowances. Nor did the companies know the tenants or care for them. But under the Irish custom they were the tenants who had themselves by their improvements raised the value of the land.

In fairness to the landlords, it should be understood that the tenants objected to the improvement of property by the landlord. "If you, the landlord," the tenant argued, "improve the land, you will be raising the rent on me. I would rather make my own improvements."

The terms of tenure in Ireland were quite different from the terms of tenancy in England, except in the north of Ireland, where was the custom of tenant-right. In the south and west, the majority of tenants had a yearly tenancy, and were liable to six months' notice, known as "the hanging gale." When a landlord desired to get rid of a tenant, he "called in the hanging gale." And a tenant habitually owed six months' rent.

I stood for Waterford at the request of my brother Lord Waterford. That I was elected was due to his great personal popularity as a landlord and as a sportsman and also to the powerful influence of a certain prominent supporter of Home Rule, which he exercised on my behalf because, although I was opposed to Home Rule, I supported denominational education. I believed then, as I believe now, that a man's religion is his own affair, and whatever it may be, it should be respected by those who own another form of faith. I have always held (in a word) that the particular form of a man's religion is necessarily due to his early education and surroundings.


But when in the House of Commons I publicly declared that conviction, I received about four hundred letters of a {131} most violent character, most of which were written by clergymen of my own persuasion. I have never asked a man for his vote in my life. When I stood for Marylebone, in 1885, there was a controversy concerning the Sunday opening of museums and picture galleries. I was in favour of opening them, upon the ground that people who were hard at work all the week might have opportunities for recreation, which I would have extended beyond museums and galleries. But I was waited upon by a solemn deputation of clerical gentlemen of various denominations, who desired to make their support of me conditional upon my acceptance of their views.

"Gentlemen," I said, "has it ever occurred to you that I have never asked you for your vote? Let me tell you that if you disapprove of my opinions, your only honest course is to vote for my opponent."

They were so astonished that they withdrew in shocked silence.

When I was in Parliament, Isaac Butt, who was failing in his endeavour to promote an agitation, begun in 1870, in favour of Home Government, or Home Rule, did his best to persuade me to join the Irish party, and to obtain for it Lord Waterford's influence, because, he said, Lord Waterford was so universally popular and so just. Although I was unable to join the Irish party, I was much impressed with Butt's arguments in so far as the land question was concerned; and I discussed the whole matter with Lord Waterford. I suggested to him that he should form a league of landlords pledged not to rack-rent their tenants; pointing out that if the Irish landlords failed to take the initiative in reform, it was certain that the people would eventually prevail against them, and that the reforms which would be enforced by law would bear hardly upon the good landlords.

Lord Waterford sympathised with my view of the matter; but after long consideration he came to the conclusion that the course I proposed might do more harm than {132} good. The question was inextricably complicated by the fact that many of the landlords who had raised their rents, had been compelled to raise them by force of circumstances; as, for instance, when they had been obliged to pay very high charges upon succeeding to their estates. In his position, Lord Waterford shrank from associating himself with a scheme which must inflict hardship upon landlords poorer than himself. Events took their course, with the result I had foreseen. My proposal was inspired by that sympathy with the demands of the Irish people, and that recognition of their justice, which had been accorded by both great political parties in turn, and which ultimately found expression in the Wyndham Land Purchase Act.

Not long ago I asked one of my tenants, who had bought his holding under the Wyndham Act, and who was a strong Home Ruler:

"Now you own the farm, are you still for Home Rule?"

"Faith, Lord Char-less," said he, "now I have the land behind me, shure if it was a choice I could be given between Home Rule and a bullock, I'd take the bullock."

In recording the beginning of my Parliamentary career, I may say at once that I have always disliked politics, as such. I entered Parliament with the desire to promote the interests of the Service; and in so far as I have been successful, I have not regretted the sacrifices involved.

But in 1874 my approval of denominational education—in other words, my support of the right of every parent to have his child educated in his own religion—outweighed my opposition to Home Rule. One of my principal supporters, himself a Home Ruler, suggested as an ingenious compromise that I should so print my election address that the words Home Rule should appear large and prominent, and the qualification "an inquiry into," very small: a proposal I declined.

My opponents were Mr. J. Esmonde and Mr. Longbottom, who was celebrated for his achievements in finance. He stood for Home Rule. Concerning Mr. Longbottom, a {133} certain parish priest, who was also a Home Ruler, addressed his congregation one Sunday morning as follows:—

"Now, boys," says he, "a few words about th' Election that's pending. First of all, if ye have a vote ye'd give ut to a genuine Home Ruler, if ye had one standing. Ye have not. Secondly, ye'd give it to a good Conservative, if ye had one standing. Well, ye have one in Lord Char-less Beresford, the gr-reat say-captain. And thirdly, ye'd vote for the Divil, but ye'd never vote for a Whig. But as for this Mr. Long-what's-'is-name, I wudn't be dhirtying me mouth by mentioning the latter end of him."

One of my opponent's supporters retorted by urging the boys to "Kape th' bloody Beresford out, for the Beresfords were never known to shmile except when they saw their victims writhin' on th' gibbet": an amiable reference to John Beresford, First Commissioner of Revenue at the period of the passing of the Act of Union, and de facto ruler of Ireland.

Other incidents of that cheery time occur to my recollection. There was the farmer who, ploughing his field, cried to me as I rode by, "Hurroo for Lord Char-less."

I went up to him and asked him whether he really meant anything, and if so, what.

"Will you do anything?" said I.

Said he, "Lord Char-less, if 'tis votes you want me to collect, begob I'll quit th' plough an' travel for a fortnight."

There was the car-boys' race I arranged on Waterford quay. Ten of them started, and I won, because I had taken the precaution to stuff some hay under the pad, which I lit with a match. The horse was stimulated but quite uninjured.

Then there was the affair of the bill-poster. I had been driving round the country all day in a side-car, seeing the boys, and late at night we stopped at a small inn. I was standing in the doorway smoking a pipe, and feeling cold and rather jaded, when I noticed a bill-poster hard at {134} work, pasting placards upon the wall of an adjacent building. I could see that they were the green placards of my opponent, my own colours being blue and white.

I strolled across, and sure enough, there was my bill-poster sticking up "Vote for Longbottom, the Friend of the People."

"And what are ye doing, my fine peacock?" said I.

"Sure I'm posting the bills of Misther Longbottom, the Friend of the People," said he.

"'Tis a grand occupation," said I. "Vote for Longbottom, the Friend of the People, and to hell with Lord Char-less," said I.

"To hell with Lord Char-less," says he.

"Come," says I, "let me show ye the way to paste bills, ye omadhaun."

"And what do ye know about pasting bills?"

"Haven't I been a billposter all me life, then?" says I. "Here, let me get at it, and I'll shew ye the right way to paste the bills of Longbottom, the Friend of the People."

He handed me his long hairy brush, and a pailful of a horrible stinking compound, and I pasted up a bill the way I was born to it.

"Sure," says he, "ye can paste bills with anny man that God ever put two legs under. 'Tis clear ye're a grand bill-poster," says he.

"Didn't I tell ye?" says I.

And with that I caught him a lick with the full brush across the face, so that the hairs flicked all round his head, and with a loud cry he turned and fled away. Armed with the pail and the brush, away I started after him, but my foot caught in the lap of the long coat I had on, and down I came, and knocked my nose on the ground, so that it bled all over me, and I had to go back to the inn. I took the rest of the placards, and the pail and the brush, and drove home, arriving very late. My brother Bill was in bed and sound asleep. Without waking him, I pasted the whole of his room with bills, "Vote for Longbottom, {135} the Friend of the People." I pasted them on the walls, and on the door, and on his bed, and on his towels, and on his trousers, and on the floor. Then I went to bed.

In the morning he awakened me, wearing a pale and solemn countenance.

"Charlie," said he, "there's some bold men among the enemy."

"What do you mean?" said I.

"They are great boys," says he. "Why, one of them got into my room last night."

"Impossible," said I.

"Come and see," said he. "When I woke this morning I thought I had gone mad."

Upon the eve of the election, a man whom I knew to be a Fenian, came up to me and said, "I shall vote for ye, Lord Char-less. I don't agree with your politics, but I shall vote for ye."

"And why would you?" I said. "You that's a Fenian, you should be voting for Mr. Longbottom, the Friend of the People, like an honest man."

"Not at all," says he. "When ye go to the market to buy a horse, or a cow, or a pig, what is it ye look for in 'um? Blood," says he. "An' it's the same in an iliction. Ye are well-bred, annyway," says he, "but as for this Mr. Longwhat's-'is-name, he's cross-bred."

When I was holding a meeting, one of the audience kept interrupting me; so I invited him to come up on the platform and have it out.

"Now what is it, ye old blackguard," I said. "Speak out."

"Lord Char-less," says he, "ye're no man."

"We'll see about that," says I. "Why do you say so?"

"Lord Char-less," he said solemnly, "I remimber the time one of your family stood for th' county of Waterford, I was up to the knees in blood and whisky for a month, and at this iliction, begob, devil a drop of eyther have I seen."

The old man referred to the election of 1826, in which {136} Lord George Beresford was beaten by Lord Stewart de Decies, an event which was partially instrumental in bringing about the emancipation of the Roman Catholics in 1829.

I have always preferred a hostile political meeting to a peaceable assembly; nor have I ever failed to hold a hostile audience except upon one occasion, during the York election. I had sent a speaker to occupy the attention of an audience, largely composed of my own countrymen, till I came, and by the time I arrived he had succeeded in irritating them beyond the power of pacification.

But one can hardly save oneself from one's friends. During the Waterford election I came one evening to Youghal and went to the hotel. I was peacefully smoking outside the inn, when a party of the boys came along, hooting me, and presently they began to throw stones. When I advanced upon them they ran away and were lost in the darkness. As I turned to go back to the hotel, a large missile caught me behind the ear, knocking me over.

Next morning I related the incident to one of my most enthusiastic supporters in the place.

"'Tis a disgrace," said I, "throwing stones in the dark. And as for that boy who made a good shot, if I could get hold of him I would scatter his features."

"Ye would not," said he.

"And why wouldn't I?" said I.

"Because," says he, "it was myself that threw that brick. An' didn't I get ye grand!" says he. "But ye're not hurted. Sure ye're not hurted, or I wudn't have told ye annything about it."

It wasn't disloyalty on his part. It was simply that he couldn't resist what he considered a joke.

The result of the polling was: Beresford, 1767; Esmonde, 1390; Longbottom, 446.

A salient characteristic of the Irish race is that they will not endure condescension towards them. They admire resolution and determination, and will submit to the sternest discipline if it is enforced upon them by a man who understands {137} them and whom they respect. Conversely, they will yield nothing to weakness, and will return any assumption of superiority with hatred and contempt. Hence it is that the English have so often failed in their dealings with the Irish. In spite of the violence the Irish often exhibit in politics, their pride of race and pride in one another remain their notable characteristics.

I recently overheard a remark which illustrates the Irish master sentiment. During the debates upon the Home Rule Bill which took place in the House of Commons in 1912, one of his Majesty's Ministers, having made a long and an eloquent speech in support of that measure, punctuated by enthusiastic cheers by the Nationalist members, had it knocked to smithereens by Sir Edward Carson. Afterwards, I heard one Nationalist member say to another, "Wasn't that grand, now, to see the Irishman knocking spots out of the Saxon!" Yet it was the Saxon who was fighting for the Nationalist cause, which the Irishman, Sir Edward Carson, was strenuously opposing.



I shall never forget my first impressions, when, in 1874, I entered Parliament. There was a discussion upon a matter of Local Government. I listened to the speeches made on both sides of the House, each speaker taking a different point of view, and I became more and more doubtful concerning the solution of the problem in hand. At last a Radical member, whose name I forget, drew all the yarns into one rope, making what appeared to me to be a clear, concise and reasonable proposal.

Sitting among my friends, several of whom had been at school with me, I said:

"That is the only man who has solved the difficulty, and if he divides I shall vote with him."

My innocent remark was received with a volley of expostulations. I was told that I had only just joined political life, and that I did not understand it; that the Radical speaker's plan was excellent, but that the other side could not be allowed to take the credit of producing a good scheme, because it would do our side harm in the country; that the scheme would be thrown out for the time, in order that our side might be able later on to bring in the same scheme and reap the credit of it, and so forth.

"Well," I said, "if this kind of tactics is required in politics, it is no place for me. I had better go back to sea."

Whereupon I was told that I should shake down to political methods when I had been a year or two in the {139} House. But I have spent years in politics and I have never shaken down to political methods. A thing is either right or wrong. I have never scrupled to vote against my own party when I thought they were in the wrong.

Upon one occasion, someone told Disraeli that I was intending to vote against the party. He put his arm on my shoulder, and said in his orotund, deliberate enunciation:

"My boy, don't you know that it's your first duty to vote with your party? If everyone voted according to his convictions, there would be no party system. And without a party system the Government could not be carried on, as you will discover in time."

I have also discovered that when politicians think only of issues as affecting themselves and not as affecting the State, party politics fall to a very low level, and those who believe in great national and Imperial ideas are regarded as freaks and faddists.

Disraeli was very friendly both to my brother Waterford and myself. Upon the first occasion of a division in which I took part, he walked through the lobby with his arm on my shoulder, rather to the surprise of the old members.

"Who the devil is that young man to whom Dizzy is talking?" I heard them murmur.

I sat immediately behind Disraeli; and one night, Lord Barrington, a great friend of his, hurried into the House, and squeezing himself in between me and the next man, leaned over and said to Disraeli in a whisper:

"Poor Whyte-Melville has been killed!"

Disraeli turned slowly round, fitting his glass into his eye.

"Dear, dear," said he deliberately; "and pray, how did that happen?"

"Killed in the hunting-field!"

"How very dramatic!" said Disraeli solemnly.

We stayed at Sandringham, and went for long walks together, during which Disraeli talked and laughed with the greatest enjoyment. But I remember how, in the pauses of {140} the conversation, he would stand still, and, glass in eye, dreamily surveying the landscape, would make some such observation as "The air is balmy ... and serene!" or "The foliage is stunted ... but productive!" with the most weighty and measured emphasis, as though these were prophetic utterances. I was quite bewildered; for I did not then know whether he were serious, or were indulging a recondite wit. He was a visionary, dwelling much in a world of his own; and I know now that he was perfectly natural and serious on these occasions.

He and his wife were devotedly attached to each other. Having taken Lady Beaconsfield in to dinner one evening, I noticed some red marks upon her arm and her napkin. She was wearing red roses, and at first I thought some petals had fallen from them. Then I saw that she was wearing a bandage on her arm, and that blood was oozing from under it. I told her that her arm was bleeding.

"Please don't say a word, Lord Charles," she said hastily, "it would distress Dizzy so much." And she furtively twisted her napkin about her arm. Lord Beaconsfield, who was sitting opposite to us, stuck his glass in his eye and stared across the table—I was afraid for a moment that he had overheard what his wife had said. Poor lady, she died shortly afterwards.

When I entered Parliament in 1874 it was still the day of the great orators: of Disraeli, Gladstone, Bright, David Plunkett, O'Connor Power; whose like, perhaps, we shall not see again. There was a tradition of eloquence in the House of Commons of that time; members declined to listen to a bore; and debate was conducted almost entirely by the two Front Benches. It was in my first Parliament that Disraeli touched the zenith of his extraordinary and splendid career; during which he formulated the principles of a national policy, a part of which himself carried into execution, but whose complete fulfilment remains to be achieved. Disraeli established a tradition; and like all those who have a great ideal—whether right or wrong is {141} not here the question—he still lives in the minds of men, and his name still carries inspiration. His great rival, who wore him down at last, bequeathed no such national inheritance.

It was in this my first Parliament that Mr. Parnell emerged as the leader of the Irish party. He was a cold, unapproachable person; he kept his party under the most rigid control, with a tight hold upon the purse. He had great ability. I have often seen him stalk into the House in the middle of a debate, receive a sheaf of notes from his secretary, Mr. O'Brien, with whom he would hold a whispered consultation, then rise and deliver a masterly speech. He sat with me on the committee of the Army Discipline Bill; speaking seldom, but always to the point.

Lord Randolph Churchill entered Parliament at the same time as myself; and he was always a great personal friend of mine.

Although we were opposed in politics, the other four Waterford members were on excellent terms with the only anti-Home Ruler in the five. There were Dick Power, F. H. O'Donnell, J. Delahunty, and Purcell O'Gorman, who weighed twenty-eight stone or so; and they all came to my wedding. Another Waterford man was Mr. Sexton. As a boy, he manifested so brilliant a talent for oratory, that he was sent into Parliament, where, as everyone knows, he speedily made his mark. I remember, too, The O'Gorman Mahon, who, if I am not mistaken, fought the last formal duel in this country.

When I entered Parliament the automobile torpedo was a comparatively recent invention. Mr Whitehead had begun his experiments in 1864; after four years' work and at the cost of £40,000, he produced the formidable engine of war known as the Whitehead torpedo, the type from which all subsequent improvements have been evolved. I have heard it stated that the British Government could have bought the invention right out for £60,000. Whitehead invented the device of using hydrostatic pressure to regulate the depth of the immersion of the torpedo, and employed compressed air {142} as its motive power. The new weapon was adopted by the British Navy and by other naval powers. In the year 1876 the type in use was the 14-in., length 14 ft. 6 in., weight 525 lbs.

In my view, the capabilities of the new weapon had not been fully appreciated; that opinion may or may not have been justified; but I considered it to be my duty publicly to insist upon the importance of the torpedo in naval warfare. I spoke on the subject both inside the House of Commons and on the platform, and was so fortunate as to win the approval of The Times.

The Admiralty, however, were deeply affronted. The First Lord, Mr. George Ward Hunt, informed me that the Board took great exception to my speaking in the House upon naval subjects, and desired me to understand that I must choose between the career of a sailor and that of a politician. My reply was that I considered the request to be a breach of privilege. Mr. Ward Hunt admitted the point; but argued that the employment in the House of Commons of my knowledge of the Service was prejudicial to discipline. He was of course right in so far as the conditions did undoubtedly afford opportunities for prejudicing discipline; but as there was no regulation forbidding a naval officer to sit in Parliament, a dual position which had been frequently held by members of the Board of Admiralty, the responsibility rested upon the individual.

However, it was not a case for argument; and I appealed directly to Mr. Disraeli, telling him that I regarded the request of the Admiralty as a breach of privilege; that I had no intention of relinquishing my naval career; and that I had entered Parliament solely in the interests of the Service. Disraeli listened with his customary sardonic gravity.

"What," he asked, "do you intend to do?"

I said that if the matter were pressed to a conclusion, I should resign my seat, in which event Waterford would very probably be captured by a hot Home Ruler.

"My dear boy," said Disraeli, in his deliberate way, "I {143} am quite sure that you will do nothing heroic. I," he added,—"I will see the Secretariat."

And that was the last I heard of the affair.

Among other Service matters in which I did what I could in the House of Commons to obtain reforms, were the training of the personnel, the more rapid promotion of officers, promotion from the lower deck to officers' rank, and the necessity for building fast cruisers to protect the trade routes. I advocated more time being spent by the men upon gunnery training, and less upon polishing bright-work; and brought forward a motion to stop the men of the Fleet "doing 'orses" (as they called hauling carts laden with stores about the dockyard), instead of being trained in their proper work. These subjects no longer possess any interest save in so far as the circumstances resemble those of the present day. But I find recurring to-day many of the difficulties of thirty or forty years ago.

At that time the Admiralty had abolished the short service system under which highly efficient seamen were recruited direct from the mercantile marine, and the Board had become responsible for the whole supply and training of men for the Fleet. But the Admiralty had neglected to constitute an efficient system of training. A very large proportion of men were employed at sea upon duties which precluded them from receiving war training of any kind; another large contingent was kept idle in hulks and receiving ships while waiting to be drafted into sea-going vessels. The suggestion was that barracks should be erected for their accommodation and provided with attached vessels; and that a complete system of training should be organised; so that every man upon going to sea in a ship of war should be acquainted with his duties. Commander Noel (now Admiral of the Fleet Sir Gerard H. U. Noel, K.C.B., K.C.M.G.) kindly sent to me a most valuable memorandum upon the subject, in which he presented an admirable scheme of organisation, the principles of which were afterwards carried into execution. Of late years those principles have been {144} infringed; but the exigencies of the Service will compel the authorities to return to the essential conditions laid down by Sir Gerard Noel, whose authority is entitled to the greatest respect. I also received a sagacious letter on the same subject from Commodore John Wilson, under whom I afterwards served as commander in the Thunderer, indicating the necessity of framing a scheme of organisation to come into force as soon as the barracks were completed.

With regard to the promotion of officers and men, the state of things nearly forty years ago finds a parallel to-day. Then, as now, a very large proportion of officers, from the rank of commander downwards, cannot hope to be promoted. It was then suggested that the retiring allowance should be increased. It is true that in 1873 Mr. Goschen, by granting an increased retiring allowance for a limited period, had done his best to effect a temporary relief. But the permanent reform, which is more necessary now than ever before, still awaits achievement. In the meantime the discontent to which I drew attention in 1875, is by no means less detrimental than it was. The whole difficulty, as usual, is financial. Government after Government, of what political complexion soever, refuse to pay the Services properly. The condition of affairs is a national disgrace.

At that time, too, the Fleet was highly deficient in cruisers; and, in consequence, the sea-borne trade of the country was exposed to great danger in the event of war, as I explained to the House of Commons. In later years the requisite ships were provided; only, in a moment of retrograde impulse, to be abolished. After a period of insecurity and uneasiness, the cruiser force is once more being slowly increased.

In later years my political opponents found great solace at elections in saying that I had objected to the abolition of flogging in the Navy. The question arose in my first Parliament. What I actually did—as a reference to Hansard will confirm—was to point out that in many cases they were the best men, the men who had the pluck to get {145} into a row. High-tempered, full of exuberance, they were flogged for offences against discipline, and whereas a flogging was soon over and done with, the alternative proposed would break a man's heart in prison and deprive the Navy of valuable services. Which, then, was the more humane course? To-day, the circumstances and conditions have changed. Discipline is better, and flogging, thank goodness, is abolished.

But when the matter was under discussion, a certain ex-naval officer assembled a public meeting, at which he attacked me with great vehemence and impassioned eloquence. He was interrupted by an old fellow at the back of the hall, who, refusing to be silenced, was asked to speak from the platform. He did. He gave the meeting a dose of lower-deck phraseology, hot and strong; and told the audience they were not to believe a word they had heard concerning myself; that he had been shipmates both with the speaker of the evening and with myself. He devoted some complimentary remarks to me, "but," says he, "as for the other, he flogged every man in the ship three or four times." Whereupon the audience rose in its wrath and drove my opponent from the platform.

Mr. Disraeli asked me to survey the three battleships building for Turkey and the one battleship building for Chile, and to give him my opinion as to whether or not they were worth buying. Disraeli said he preferred to ask me rather than the Admiralty, as I could, if necessary, speak on the matter in Parliament. "And," said Disraeli, in his pontifical way, "I like young brains." I advised the purchase of the ships; and purchased they were, being added to the British Navy under the names of Superb, Belleisle, Orion and Neptune.

In those days I owned a bull-dog of marked personality. He never fought unless he were attacked; but his favourite recreation was to rush at full speed, head down, at every dog bigger than himself. The instant he caught sight of a big dog, he shot away like a projectile discharged from a gun; nothing stopped or turned him; and the unsuspecting object {146} of the manifestation would go down like a ninepin. Then, unless he were detained by reprisals, Butcher would return to his master with the air of a dog who knew his duty and who had done it. At that time the streets of London were haunted by Italian image-venders, who carried the Twelve Apostles and other sacred statuettes neatly arranged upon a board, which the merchant balanced on his head. One of those pious venders was walking directly in the headlong path of Butcher, who flashed between his legs. Down came the Apostles, who were dashed to fragments, for which I had to pay about £12 to the pedlar of saints.

When my dog thought I wanted a hansom, he used to scramble into it, jump upon the seat, and sit there panting with his tongue hanging out. He performed this feat one day when an old gentleman, without noticing him, had hailed a hansom. The old gentleman, climbing slowly into the cab, suddenly saw the dog on the seat, and was so startled that he tumbled backwards and knocked his head on the pavement.

In 1876, having passed in torpedo work in the Vernon, I applied for the appointment of second in command in a big snip, holding then, as I hold now, that every officer who hopes to obtain flag rank should gain experience in detailed routine work and in handling and organising men, which can only be acquired as first lieutenant or commander. The second in command of a man-of-war gains invaluable experience. He must always look ahead in order to prevent things occurring which would cause confusion or discomfort. He has literally not one minute to himself in the day; thinking ahead, waylaying the wishes of his captain, and providing not only for what will occur but for what may occur, and being ready to encounter the constant unforeseen emergencies inseparable from life at sea in a man-of-war.

I was accordingly appointed to the Thunderer as commander. Her captain was John Crawford Wilson (afterwards Rear-Admiral). The Navy lost one of the best officers that ever sailed the seas when he died in 1885. He {147} was mentioned in the Admiral's dispatch for gallant conduct in the affair of the Peiho Forts in 1859, served on the Pacific Station, and was commodore of the Australian station. He was commander of the Bombay screw wooden first-rate, when she was burned off Montevideo on the 14th December, 1864, and when 97 officers and men perished. Many of those who were lost had climbed out on the bowsprit, and when they were forced overboard by the heat, the melting lead of the gammoning (the lead covering to the chain gammoning securing the bowsprit) dropped on them and killed them. It was largely due to the splendid discipline maintained by Wilson that the loss was not far greater. The men held their posts although the flames were licking up through the skids, so that the falls of the last boat, lowered from the yard-arm, were actually burned through. It should be added that in this disaster the Royal Marines enhanced their unrivalled reputation, 34 out of 97 lost belonging to the corps, the sentries dying at their posts.

The Thunderer was of 9190 (4407) tons, 6270 (800) h.p., and belonged to the Channel Squadron. She was an improved central battery twin-screw ironclad, designed, with the vessels of a similar type, Devastation and Dreadnought, by Mr. E. T. Reed, C.B. In these ships there was no propulsion by mast and sail power. They also embodied the idea of limiting the armament to heavy guns, the secondary armament of lighter guns being omitted. This arrangement, after having been wisely abandoned for many years, was repeated in the Dreadnought of the year 1906, only to be once more recognised as a mistake. One of many reasons why a secondary armament was essential, particularly with muzzle-loading guns, was that, lacking it, the men might have been exposed to the enemy's fire for some time before they could reply, a most demoralising position. These considerations were constantly represented by Captain Wilson to the Admiralty. While the science of gunnery progressed, the element of time has remained a {148} factor in the problem, though under different circumstances. The Thunderer carried two pairs of muzzle-loading guns in two turrets; the foremost pair being 38-ton guns, hydraulic loading, the after pair 35-ton guns, hand-loading. She was belted with 14-inch armour along the water line; and the armour projecting squarely from the hull, its edge struck the water so hard when the ship rolled, that she was shaken throughout her structure. To remedy this defect, wedge-shaped pieces were fitted along the lower edge of the armour. Before I joined the ship she had burst a boiler, the escaping steam causing great loss of life. Captain Wilson, who was in the engine-room at the time, was saved by his stature; although he was scalded, his face was above the level of the steam, being between the deck-beams where there was an air cushion.

That the boiler exploded was due to the remarkable coincidence of two factors. The box safety-valve jammed, owing to the two different metals of which it was constructed expanding in different degrees. And the pressure-gauge tell-tale, which was fitted in a cogged circle, had the needle forced right round the circle twice or more, so that it showed a normal pressure. The actual pressure must have been terrific.

And after I left the ship one of her guns burst. This accident contributed another instance in favour of breech-loading as opposed to muzzle-loading guns.

The accident occurred during practice at quarters in the Gulf of Ismid, on 2nd January, 1879, in the fore-turret. Captain Alfred John Chatfield had succeeded Captain Wilson in command. Two officers and nine men were killed, and thirty-five persons injured. The muzzle was blown off from about two feet in front of the trunnions. There was much discussion then and subsequently concerning the cause of the accident. The probability is that the bursting of the gun was due to its having been double-loaded, after a previous miss-fire, which, in the simultaneous discharge of the rest of the guns, had not been noticed. The committee {149} which reported on the matter on 1st March, 1879, adopted this hypothesis, in preference to the theory that there had been a flaw in the material.

Captain Edward Seymour (afterwards Admiral of the Fleet the Right Hon. Sir E. H. Seymour), who was then in command of the troopship Orontes, in his book, My Naval Career and Travels, thus refers to the incident:—

"From Malta I brought home the main part of the ship's company of H.M.S. Thunderer, on board which ship the terrible explosion of the 38-ton muzzle-loading gun had lately occurred in her foremost turret. Both turret guns were being fired simultaneously, but evidently one did not go off. It may seem hard to believe such a thing could happen and not be noticed, but from my own experience I understand it. The men in the turret often stopped their ears, and perhaps shut their eyes, at the moment of firing, and then instantly worked the run-in levers, and did not notice how much the guns had recoiled. This no doubt occurred. Both guns were then at once reloaded, and the rammer's indicator, working by machinery, set fast and failed to show how far home the new charge had gone. This, too, may seem unlikely, but no doubt it happened; and the gun on being then fired burst, killing two officers and several men, and wrecking the turret. Experiments made with a similar gun double-loaded, burst it in exactly the same way."

I agree. I have frequently been in the turret during practice, and I have myself fired several rounds and I can testify that the concussion was so tremendous that it was impossible to hear whether one gun was fired or both guns were fired. Without insisting upon details, it was also the fact that the men in the turret could not tell by the position of the hydraulic rammer whether or not the gun had already been charged, as the rammer was three-jointed and telescopic: the indicator which was designed to show the position of the rammer was totally unreliable; while the actual loading of the gun was done upon the battery deck below the turret. {150} Hence the loading crew must also have been unaware that there had been a misfire. The system in use in the Thunderer was experimental, and after the accident its defects were remedied. I then wrote to The Times explaining what the system had been and how it had been improved, in order both to remove any misapprehension there might have been with regard to the efficiency of the officers and men who perished in the disaster, and with regard to the future safety of guns' crews. I was reprimanded by the Admiralty for having published the letter while on full pay in the command of the Osborne; but the reprimand was (like the Bishop's apron) a mere form, for I also received a private letter of thanks.

After the bursting of the boiler, but before the gun accident, the Prince of Wales at my suggestion very kindly came on board, in order that the men's belief that the Thunderer was an unlucky ship should be removed. The Prince fired the fore turret guns at a target from the captain of the guns' firing position, and made a rattling good shot.

The Thunderer was employed in experimental work, such as measuring her turning-circle (the diameter of which is the smallest distance the ship can set between the point at which she begins to describe a semi-circle and the point at which she ends it), and noting her behaviour under various circumstances and stresses of weather. I gained much valuable experience in her, and I shall always remember Captain Wilson as one of those officers from whose skill and experience I learned the most.

While I was in the Thunderer (1876-7) I made one of the first working models of the telephone used in this country, and had the honour of presenting it to H.R.H. the Princess of Wales. The invention was first exhibited before the British Association by Mr. W. H. Preece on 23rd August, 1877; and it was shown to Queen Victoria at Osborne on 15th January, 1878. The Telephone Company was established during the same year.


The Thunderer was sent to blow up a vessel which had {151} capsized and which was floating in the Channel, a danger to mariners. Explosives attached to her side tore pieces out of her, but the wreck continued to float. In these cases it is necessary to disintegrate the vessel, whether sunk or floating, into fragments. I suggested that the hull should be girdled with an iron hoop to which explosives were attached at intervals, and the device was successful. The explosion cut her into holes like the perforations of a sheet of postage stamps and she broke up.

The Thunderer was lying off Queenstown, and I was watching a cutter which was running out of the harbour. On the deck was a group of Irish farmers. The cutter suddenly gybed, the boom knocking down the farmers. Getting up, they instantly fell upon one another with sticks; and they were hard at it when over came the boom again, and again felled them all to the deck. It could be they had had a drop of liquor taken, which confused their intellects.

In the year 1878 I married Miss Jeromina Gardner, daughter of the late Richard Gardner, M.P. for Leicester, and of Lucy Countess Mandelsloh, whose father, Count Mandelsloh, was for some years Minister in London, representing Würtemberg.

Shortly afterwards I was appointed to command the royal yacht Osborne. The Osborne was used by the Prince of Wales (afterwards King Edward VII). In those days she was not kept in commission for more than a few months in each year.

Several cruises were made to Denmark, and there were many shooting expeditions. On one such occasion I was the only person present who was not either a king actual or a king prospective. There were the King of Denmark, the King of Norway and Sweden, and the King of Greece, the Prince of Wales, the Cesarewitch, the Crown Princes of Denmark, of Norway and Sweden, and of Greece. We shot foxes, hares, deer, and anything that came along; and I was laughed at when my instincts forbade me to shoot a fox.


Upon a return voyage, when all the Royal children were on board, a gale sprang up just off the Skaw. The starboard paddle-wheel was smashed upon some wreckage; and the next thing I saw was a small craft being driven on a lee shore. The Osborne dropped anchor, in order both that the paddle-wheel should be repaired and that the crew of the driving vessel might be assisted. The only way to rescue them was to veer a boat astern with a hawser. Just as the arrangement was ready, to my delight I perceived the crew—there were four—embarking in their own boats. They reached the shore in safety, but their ship was wrecked.

It was then the system in the royal yachts to retain the officers in her for long periods. One officer had been in the Osborne for fourteen years. I ventured to suggest to the Prince of Wales that under these conditions his acquaintance with the officers of the Fleet was necessarily limited, and that by means of restricting the time of service in the Osborne to two years, he might become acquainted with a succession of officers. With his habitual courtesy and address, the Prince adopted the suggestion.

Queen Victoria was, however, a little perturbed by the change. Her Majesty said to me that she hoped I should not endeavour to change the officers in the royal yacht.

"No, ma'am," I replied. "I have no such power. I only made a suggestion to the Prince."

"You may be right," said the Queen, "but I am an old woman now, and I like to see faces I know about me, and not have to begin again with new faces."

We had some excellent boat-racing in the Osborne. One famous race was rowed at Cowes between the officers of the royal yachts Victoria and Albert and Osborne, in six-oared galleys. Her Majesty Queen Victoria came down to the jetty to witness the contest. The stroke of the Victoria and Albert was my old comrade in the Marlborough and Bellerophon, Swinton Holland. I was stroke of the Osborne's crew. At first the Osborne drew ahead—rather, I think, to {153} the Queen's dismay—but eventually the Victoria and Albert won the race, to the delight of Her Majesty.

Another great race was rowed between the Osborne six-oared galley and the Dockyard boat. It took place off Southsea, the whole of the foreshore being lined with people. The Osborne won. Her boat was manned by Irish bluejackets whom I had trained myself.

While I was commanding the Osborne one of the crew met with a singular accident. We were shooting the seine off Calshot, and, as it fouled, I sent a man down to clear it. When he came up, he said that he had been stabbed through the hand "by some beast." I examined the wound and found that his hand had been pierced right through, and I thought that he must have come upon a nail or a splinter in a piece of wreckage. But when we hauled up the seine, there was a huge sting-ray. I cut out the sting and gave it to the Princess. There is no doubt that the fish had transfixed the man's hand. The sailor is still alive, and is well known in Portsmouth for his political enthusiasms. It was in the same haul that we caught a red mullet weighing about six pounds, the biggest I have ever seen.

I ought here to record the very great interest taken by the Royal Family in all matters connected with the Navy. While I was in command of the Osborne, the Prince of Wales graciously consented to attend one of the gatherings of members of Parliament who came at my invitation to see something of the Navy. On this occasion they visited Portsmouth Dockyard, where they were shown everything of interest.

One of the experiments performed for the entertainment and the instruction of the party was firing at a floating cask with bombs thrown by hand, a method of warfare since discontinued owing to the danger it involves to the person bombarding. When the cask exploded, a stave flew between the Prince and the general commanding at Portsmouth, Sir Hastings Doyle. Had it struck either of them he must have been killed.


The general's brother, Percy Doyle, a dear old gentleman well known in society, had very bad sight. I once saw him trying to eat a red mullet done up in paper. After a good deal of harpooning, he got it out, but put the paper in his mouth. We always told him he had swallowed the births, deaths, and marriages column of The Times.

On Sunday the 24th of March, 1878 (the date of my engagement to Miss Gardner), the Eurydice, training frigate, capsized off the Isle of Wight in a sudden squall and sank. The total loss of life was about 300, only two being saved. She was on her way home from the West Indies. Coming under the Isle of Wight, she hauled her wind for Spithead, thus closing the land, so that it was impossible for the watch to see a squall coming up from windward. The captain, the Hon. Marcus A. S. Hare, was anxious to reach the harbour as soon as possible in order to give the men Sunday leisure. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon when a sudden squall struck the ship, and she heeled over; the lee main-deck ports being open, according to custom, she took in a good deal of water, depressing her bows; so that instead of capsizing, she simply sailed straight to the bottom, her fore-foot being broken off with the force of the impact, and her topgallant masts remaining above the surface. There was no time to shorten sail. When she was raised it was found that only one rope, the mainroyal sheet, had carried away.

Rear-Admiral Foley, admiral-superintendent of Portsmouth Dockyard, kindly invited me to be his guest to take part in the salvage operations arranged for the raising of the Eurydice. That occasion was, I think, the first upon which the newly invented wire hawsers were actually tested in practical work. When they were introduced it was thought that they would not be flexible enough for their purpose. They were, however, used with great success in raising the Eurydice. The hawsers were passed under the hull of the sunken ship and secured to lighters moored on either side of her. As the tide went down, the hawsers were hove taut, and water was {155} let into the lighters so that they should be brought as low in the water as possible. The water was then pumped out of the lighters, thus putting the utmost strain upon the hawsers. Then, as the rising of the tide exerted a powerful lift upon lighters and hawsers, the lighters were towed towards the shore, in order to drag the wreck upon the beach. As soon as she grounded, the hawsers were fleeted and the whole process gone through again until at low tide she was nearly high and dry.

My old ship, the Thunderer, which took a hawser to her after capstan to tow the Eurydice, had the solid iron spindle of the capstan pulled right out of her, as a long nail is bent and dragged out of a piece of timber. I well remember the intense excitement when the wreck first shifted from her bed. Eventually we hauled her up the beach. I was just then taking a bearing for Admiral Foley, and could not have given a better holloa if I had viewed a fox.

Before the water was pumped out of her, and as she lay on her side on the beach, I climbed in at a porthole, and sat there waiting till I could enter. As the water fell, I saw emerge the sentry's clock on the main-deck. The hands had stopped at 4.5. The bodies lay in heaps, tangled amid ropes; some had lost a head and some a limb. Black mud had filtered in everywhere, even (as Sir Edward Seymour remarks) into the closed drawers of the chests in the cabins.

When, as a cadet, I was learning to heave the lead from the chains of the Eurydice, which, as I have already related, was then moored off Haslar Creek in Portsmouth Harbour, I little thought I should one day help to raise her from the bottom of the sea.

Dr. Boyd Carpenter (late Bishop of Ripon), in his charming volume of recollections, Some Pages of my Life, narrates a remarkable story concerning the Eurydice, as it was told to him. Sir John MacNeill was the Bishop's cousin and, like other members of his family, had the gift of second sight.


"Sir John MacNeill," writes the Bishop, "was looking out of the window in Sir John Cowell's room at Windsor, when suddenly he exclaimed: 'Good Heavens! Why don't they close the portholes and reef the topsails!' Sir John Cowell looked up and asked him what he meant. He said, in reply, that he hardly knew; but that he had seen a ship coming up Channel in full sail, with open portholes, while a heavy squall was descending upon her. At the very time this conversation was taking place the fatal storm fell upon the Eurydice, and she foundered as she was coming in sight of home."

In 1880, while I was still in command of the Osborne, I lost my seat at Waterford. In the following year, desiring to hold another independent command before my promotion to captain, I applied to go to sea again, and was appointed to command H.M.S. Condor.



In September, 1875, I was appointed A.D.C. to the Prince of Wales (our late King) to accompany his Royal Highness upon his visit to India. The complete list of the suite was as follows: The Duke of Sutherland, K.G.; Sir Bartle Frere; Lord Suffield, Head of the Prince's Household; Major-General Lord Alfred Paget, Clerk-Marshal to H.M. the Queen; Lord Aylesford; Major-General Probyn, V.C., Equerry to the Prince, in charge of the transport and sporting arrangements; Colonel Arthur Ellis, Grenadier Guards, Equerry to the Prince; Mr. Francis Knollys (afterwards Lord Knollys), the Prince's private secretary; Surgeon-General Fayrer, Physician to the Prince; Captain H. Carr Glyn, Royal Navy, A.D.C. to H.M. the Queen commanding H.M.S. Serapis; Colonel Owen Williams; Lieutenant Lord Charles Beresford, Royal Navy, A.D.C. to the Prince; Lord Carington, A.D.C. to the Prince; the Rev. Canon Duckworth, Chaplain; Lieutenant (afterwards Colonel) Augustus FitzGeorge, Rifle Brigade extra A.D.C. to the Prince; Commander Durrant, Royal Navy, commanding royal yacht Osborne; Dr. W. H. Russell, hon. private secretary to the Prince, chronicler of the voyage; Mr. Albert Grey (afterwards Lord Grey), private secretary to Sir Bartle Frere; Mr. Sydney Hall, artist.

The Indian officers, who joined the suite at Bombay, and whose energy and ability were beyond all praise, were Major-General Sam Browne, V.C., in charge of transport; Major Williams, in charge of horses and grooms; Major {158} Bradford, head of the police and responsible for the safety of the person of the Prince; Major Sartorius, V.C., in charge of tents and servants; and Major Henderson, linguist.

The first announcement of the intention of the Prince to visit the Indian Empire was made by Lord Salisbury to the Council of India on 16th March, 1875. The matter was subsequently discussed at length both in Parliament and in the Press. The condition of affairs in India, where the mass of the ruling princes and chieftains had still to realise that the rule of the Honourable East India Company had given place to a greater governance, rendered the visit of the future Sovereign of paramount importance; and the Prince's sagacity was seldom more admirably exemplified than in his determination to visit India as the Heir-Apparent of the Crown. That the scheme was entirely and supremely successful in achieving the object for which it was designed, was due to the Prince's zeal, ability, tact and indomitable vigour. He gave his whole mind to the enterprise; thought of everything in advance; and set aside his personal comfort and convenience from first to last. Only one regret was present in the minds of all: the regret for the unavoidable absence of the Princess.

The whole history of the episode has been so excellently well told by the late Dr. William Howard Russell, the famous war correspondent, who was a member of the suite, in his The Prince of Wales's Tour (London, 1877; Sampson Low) that any detailed account of it on my part would be superfluous.

The Prince left England on 11th October, 1875, and embarked in H.M.S. Serapis at Brindisi on the 16th. In the Suez Canal we heard of the purchase of Suez Canal shares by the British Government. The Serapis arrived at Bombay on 8th November.

Thenceforward the Prince's tour was an unresting progress of Durbars, receptions, dinners, visits, processions, ceremonies, speeches, addresses, fireworks, entertainments, investitures, reviews, varied only by intervals of sport. From Bombay, {159} the Prince went to Goa, and thence to Ceylon, visiting Colombo, Kandy, where he viewed the sacred tooth of Gotama Buddha, and Ruanwalla, where there was an elephant hunt. Then he went to Tuticorin, Madura, Trichinopoly, Madras, Calcutta, Bankipoor, Benares, Lucknow, Cawnpore, Delhi, Lahore, Cashmir, Umritsar, Agra, Gwalior, and Jeypoor. From Jeypoor he went into camp in the Terai and enjoyed excellent sport. Then, in Nepal, under the auspices of Sir Jung Bahadur, there was the great elephant hunt. From Nepal the Prince went to Allahabad, then to Bombay, whence he sailed on 11th March, 1876, having been in India seventeen weeks exactly. "The Prince," wrote Dr. Russell on that date, "has travelled nearly 7600 miles by land and 2300 by sea, knows more Chiefs than all the Viceroys and Governors together, and seen more of the country in the time than any other living man."

On the outward voyage his Royal Highness visited the King of Greece. When the King and Queen were leaving the Serapis after dining on board, we showed them compliment and honour by setting them alight. The blue lights burning at the main-yard being exactly above the boat in which their Majesties were going ashore, dropped flakes of fire upon them. The Prince also visited the Khedive. On the return voyage, the Prince met at Suez Lord Lytton, who was on his way to India to succeed Lord Northbrook as Viceroy; was again entertained by the Khedive; visited Malta; called at Gibraltar; and visited the King of Spain and the King of Portugal. The Serapis was accompanied by the royal yacht Osborne, Commander Durrant, and H.M.S. Raleigh, Captain Tryon. The Prince landed in England on 11th May, 1876.

It is worth noting that Lord Lytton went out in the Orontes, one of the Imperial Service troopships, as they were called. The troopship service was then at times conducted by the Royal Navy, a practice since discontinued. The Orontes was commanded by Captain E. H. Seymour (afterwards Admiral of the Fleet the Right Hon. Sir Edward {160} Seymour, G.C.B., O.M., G.C.V.O., LL.D.) In his very interesting book, My Naval Career and Travels, Sir Edward Seymour writes: "At Suez, by arrangement, we met H.R.H. the Prince of Wales (our late King) on his way home in the Serapis. At Aden Lord Lytton landed in state, it being the first point reached of his new dominions." The point illustrates the working in detail of the great scheme of Imperial organisation which was conceived by the master-mind of Disraeli, and which he continued to carry into execution so long as he was in power.

Upon landing at Bombay, I rode up to Government House with my brother, Lord William, precisely as I had ridden up with another brother, Lord Marcus, exactly six years previously, on the same day of the year. Lord William was then extra A.D.C. to the Viceroy, Lord Northbrook, having been appointed to that post as a subaltern in the 9th Lancers. He was subsequently appointed A.D.C. to Lord Lytton, in which capacity he attended the Viceroy at the Durbar at which Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India. He was afterwards military secretary to three successive viceroys, Lords Ripon, Dufferin and Lansdowne; altogether he served on the personal staff of five viceroys. From 1877 to 1879, while nominally in attendance upon the Viceroy, Lord William fought in the Jowaki expedition of 1877-78, the Afghan war, during which he was present at the capture of Ali Musjid, and the Zulu war of 1879. "In the latter," wrote a military correspondent of The Times (31st December, 1900), "he served as a staff officer during the reconnaissance across the White Umvolusi River and at the battle of Ulundi. It was in Zululand, in July, 1879, that Beresford won the V.C. for halting, when closely pursued by the enemy, to take a wounded non-commissioned officer on his horse. When the soldier at first declined to risk the officer's life by giving the latter's horse a double burden, Beresford is understood to have hotly declared that unless the man immediately got up on the saddle he would himself dismount and 'punch his head.'"


For his services in the Burmese expedition of 1886, he received a brevet-colonelcy; and in 1891 he was promoted full colonel; in 1894 he received the K.C.S.I.; and thereafter remained on the active list of the Army, but unemployed. Of his exploits on the turf it is not here the place to speak; but I may be pardoned if I have placed on record in this place some account of Lord William's Indian service which extended over nearly twenty years. Few men have earned so universal an affection as that which Lord William inspired, alike in European and native. His ability in matters of administration was remarkable, and he acquired an extraordinary influence over the natives of India. The correspondent of The Times, already quoted, observes that Lord William might have had a distinguished career in any profession; that he might have been a great soldier, a great diplomat, a great political officer, had not his passion for the turf diverted a part of his energies. It may be so; but perhaps one may be allowed to say that one liked him for what he was and not for what he might have been; and also that he did not do so badly. The warmest affection existed between my brother and myself; and his death, which occurred in 1900, was a great grief to me. But that was in the far future when I landed from the Serapis and we rode up to Government House together.

Of the other members of the Prince's suite I retain the most pleasant recollections. Among them I especially recall Major-General Probyn (afterwards General the Right Hon. Sir Dighton Macnaghten Probyn, V.C., etc. etc.); Major-General Sam Browne, V.C. (afterwards General Sir Samuel James Browne, V.C., K.C.S.I., etc.); Major Bradford (afterwards Sir Edward Ridley Colborne Bradford, Bart., K.C.S.I., G.C.V.O.); Surgeon-General Fayrer (afterwards Sir Joseph Fayrer, Bart.); and Dr. Russell (afterwards Sir William Howard Russell, C.V.O., LL.D.).

Major-General Probyn, of magnificent presence, black-bearded, hawk-eyed, a hero of the Mutiny, was universally respected and beloved by the native population, over {162} whom he owned a great influence. He was one of the finest soldiers and most delightful companions it has been my fortune to know. In 1876, he already had twenty-five years' service, including the Trans-Indus frontier affair of 1852-57, the Mutiny (in which his name was a terror), in China in 1860, in the Umbeyla campaign of 1863. He was Colonel of Probyn's Horse, 11th King Edward's Own Lancers; afterwards Keeper of the Privy Purse, Comptroller and Treasurer of the Household of the present King when he was Prince of Wales; and since 1901, extra Equerry to the King.

Probyn and I assisted at a surgical operation. A mahout had his hand smashed; and we held him while the surgeon amputated his finger and thumb.

Major-General Sam Browne, V.C., had served in the second Sikh war with distinction, and during the Mutiny led the surprise attack upon the rebels at Sirpura, at dawn upon 31st August, 1858. Almost single-handed, he charged the guns, receiving the wound resulting in the loss of his arm. For this service, he was awarded the V.C. During the Prince's tour he represented the Indian Army; nor could a finer or more efficient representative have been selected.

Major Bradford had performed gallant and distinguished service in the Mutiny. He had lost an arm, under circumstances which may be worth repetition. Together with a brother officer, Captain Curtis, and a trooper, Bradford was tiger-shooting. Seated in a mechan (tree-shelter), he wounded a tiger, breaking its back; his second barrel missed fire; and Bradford fell from the mechan on the top of the tiger, which seized him. Bradford thrust his fist down the beast's throat; and while Curtis was trying to get another shot, the tiger mangled Bradford's arm up to the shoulder. Curtis eventually killed the animal. The party had a long and painful distance to traverse before they reached help. Bradford's arm was amputated without chloroform. In 1890, Bradford was appointed commissioner of police in the Metropolis, at a time when there was a good deal of {163} discontent in the Force, and speedily proved the worth of his unrivalled experience and ability.

Surgeon-General Fayrer, I remember, had a remarkable way with snakes. He kept a selection of the most deadly reptiles in a wheelbarrow, nestled in straw. With his naked hands he would uncover them, and, deftly catching them by the neck, force them to exhibit their fangs.

Someone composed a set of irreverent verses dedicated to the surgeon-general:

    "Little Joe Fayrer
    Sent for his bearer
And asked for his Christmas pie.
    e put in his thumb,
    And pulled out a plum,
And found it a K.C.S.I."

Dr. W. H. Russell, the famous war correspondent, who in his letters to The Times during the Crimean war did so much good service, was a most delightful companion. He is remembered by all who knew him, both for his talents and for his sympathetic and affectionate disposition and his unfailing sense of humour. He was one of my greatest friends. During the voyage, he occupied the cabin next to mine.

The Prince having requested him to provide himself with a uniform, Dr. Russell designed a kind of Ambassadorial dress of great splendour, with so generous a gold stripe to his kersey breeches, that we told him he had gold trousers with a white stripe inside. These effulgent garments unfortunately carried away when the doctor was climbing upon an elephant, on his way to a Durbar. I executed temporary repairs upon his person with safety pins; and implored him not to stoop. But when it came to his turn to bow, bow he must; the jury rig parted, and a festoon of white linen, of extraordinary length, waved behind him. Fortunately, the assembled Indian Princes thought it was part of his uniform.

At Mian Mir, during the ceremony of a great review of troops, Dr. Russell, who was riding among the suite mounted on a half-broken Arab, was suddenly heard to shout, "Whoa, you villainous brute!" At the same moment, several of the {164} suite were knocked endways. The Arab then got the bit in his teeth, and tore away past the Prince down the whole line. Dr. Russell's helmet was jerked to the back of his head, his puggaree unfurled in a long train floating behind him, he vanished into the distance and we did not see him again until dinner-time. He passed so close to the Prince, that had the doctor another thickness of gold on his gold trousers, there would have been an accident to his Royal Highness.

The Duke of Sutherland, during the Prince's journeys overland in India, took an intense delight in driving the engine, from which it was hard to tear him away. We had halted at a station where the customary ceremonial had been arranged, and had changed into uniform, all save the Duke, who was nowhere to be seen.

"Where can he be?" said the Prince.

I submitted that he might be on the engine, and went to see. Sure enough, the Duke was sitting on the rail, his red shirt flung open, his sun-helmet on the back of his head. In either black fist he grasped a handful of cotton waste, with which he was mopping up the perspiration of honest toil. He hurried to his carriage to change into uniform; and presently appeared, buttoning his tunic with one hand. In the other he still grasped a skein of cotton waste. The Prince looked at him.

"Can nothing be done?" said the Prince sadly.

The great elephant hunt in Nepal took place on the 25th February, 1876, under the auspices of Sir Jung Bahadur (afterwards the Maharaja Sir Jung Bahadur, G.C.B., G.C.S.I.). A herd of wild elephants, captained by a male of gigantic size and valour, who had already vanquished Sir Jung's most formidable righting elephants, had been tracked down in the forest. Sir Jung determined that, come what would, he should be captured. Sir Jung led the Prince and several of his suite, all well mounted on horses, into the forest, to the rendezvous, to which the wild herd was to be driven. But in the meantime, the big elephant had given the hunters the slip.

I was of the hunting party, and I had the stiffest run of {165} my life, and at the end of it there were left besides myself only my companion—I think he was Mr. Greenwood—and six Indian notables. Mounted on swift pad elephants, we pursued that tremendous beast at top speed from four o'clock in the morning till six in the evening, bursting through the jungle, splashing through rivers, climbing the rocky steeps of hills upon which there appeared to be no foothold except for monkeys, and down which the elephants slid upon their bellies. So we rode hour after hour, hanging on the ropes secured to the guddee, lying flat upon the steed's back to avoid being scraped off his back by branches, until the quarry, escaping us ran straight into Sir Jung Bahadur's party of horsemen.

There, in an open space set with sword-like reeds, stood the elephant, his flanks heaving, his head and trunk moving from side to side. He had one huge tusk and the stump of the other.

It was the business of the horsemen in front to keep him employed in the open while the champion fighting elephants, Jung Pershaud and Bijli Pershaud, were being brought up. Again and again he charged, the riders eluding his rushes, the Prince among them. A stumble or a fall—and nothing could have saved the rider. Presently the elephant, wearying of these profitless tactics, wheeled and took refuge in a swamp, where the reeds and rushes hid him. But there was nothing to do but await the arrival of the fighting elephants. The fugitive employed his respite in cooling himself by pouring water over his heated person. In the meantime, Jung Pershaud, the terrible rogue elephant, somewhat fatigued like his quarry, was drawing near. Jung Pershaud, in order to give warning of his very dangerous presence, was hung about the neck with a large bell, like a railway-station bell. When he was not in action he was secured with ropes.

Presently, from out the jungle, there sounded the uneven, minatory clangour of the bell. Everyone shouted that Jung Pershaud was coming. The hunted elephant paused in his ablutions, turned about, and, pushing the foliage aside with {166} his trunk, gazed in the direction of the warning note. Then emerged into view the vast head of Jung Pershaud, painted scarlet. He moved steadily and directly upon his quarry, who lowered his head, presenting his long sharp tusk. The tusks of Jung Pershaud were four to five feet long and ringed with brass.

Jung swung his trunk and dealt the hunted elephant a blow on the head, then charged him in the flank with a resounding impact, drew back and charged the reeling beast from behind. The hunted elephant took to flight, pursued by Jung Pershaud, heading straight for the place where I was watching the combat among the pads and smaller fighting elephants. These turned and fled in terror.

The hunted elephant plunged into the wood, ploughing his way through the undergrowth, leaving Jung Pershaud behind him. Sir Jung Bahadur, following with the Prince and the rest of the party, adjured us to keep out of the way of the fleeing beast while keeping him in sight. The quarry checked at an opening in the forest and remained in the shelter of the trees, while the Prince, with Sir Jung Bahadur and Dr. Russell, rode across a stream into the open space. Sir Jung Bahadur sat on his horse and cursed the elephant; who, after hearkening attentively for a few minutes, suddenly charged the horsemen.

At the same instant, the second fighting elephant, Bijli Pershaud, burst out of the jungle, and the two animals met forehead to forehead with a crash. Bijli Pershaud drew off and charged again, striking the hunted elephant on the shoulder, and running beside him, charged him heavily again and again, until the poor driven beast dropped his trunk and uttered a pitiable cry. He was beaten at last.

As we came up, it was discovered that the elephant was blind of one eye; everyone commiserated the defeated gladiator; and Sir Jung Bahadur offered to let him go free should the Prince so desire.

The Prince having accepted the suggestion, the elephant was led captive away and was secured with thick ropes to a {167} tree. He bent his vast strength to a last effort to escape, so that the tree creaked and shook under the strain. He cried aloud in despair, and then stood silent, refusing all food.

They set him free upon the following day, having sawn off his great tusk; which was presented by Sir Jung Bahadur to the Prince.

A few days before the great hunt took place in Nepal, Sir Jung Bahadur's regiment of elephants paraded before the Prince. They numbered more than 700, and were drilled to manoeuvre in companies to the sound of the bugle. After the hunt, the Prince reviewed Sir Jung's army: a corps which, as the message from the Queen delivered by the Prince recalled in gracious terms, had tendered valuable help to the British arms upon an important occasion. The total strength of the army was 114,000 infantry and 420 guns. The infantry, in addition to rifle and bayonet, carried the kukri, or curved knife, the national weapon. We witnessed an exhibition of its use by the soldiers, who vied with one another in cutting, with a single action, slices of soft wood from a baulk, the cut making a diagonal section. More by good luck than by merit, I succeeded in cutting the widest section; and perceiving it to be extremely improbable that I could repeat the performance, I refused the invitation to try again. Sir Jung Bahadur presented me with the kukri I had used. I have the weapon now.

With this weapon, I slew a boa-constrictor. Riding an elephant after tiger, on which occasion shooting at any other game was forbidden, I saw a boa-constrictor, and dismounted. The great snake was lying asleep, coiled in a hole in the ground and half hidden in foliage. Selecting a narrowing coil, I cut nearly through it. The snake darted at me, and I finished it with a stick. Although it was dead, its body continued to writhe until sunset. For a long time I kept the skin, but unfortunately it decomposed.

My brother Lord William and I were out pig-sticking, and were riding after a boar. I got first spear, when the {168} boar knocked both me and my horse clean over. The boar went on, then turned, and as I was in the act of getting up, came right at me. Remembering what an old pig-sticker, Archie Hill, had told me a man should do if he were bowled over and a boar attacked him, I rolled over on my face, presenting my least vital aspect to the enemy. But my brother, cleverly turning his horse, killed the boar within a few feet of me. The beast's head is preserved at Curraghmore.

During the whole time of the Prince's stay in India, one of his suite, the members of which took it in turns to discharge the duty, remained on guard over his person at night. I have in my possession the pair of pistols with which the gentleman on watch was armed.

On 10th January, 1876, the Prince visited the Cawnpore Memorial. "There was deep silence," writes Dr. Russell, "as the Prince read in a low voice the touching words, 'To the memory of a great company of Christian people, principally women and children, who were cruelly slaughtered here'—the name of the great criminal and the date of the massacre are cut round the base of the statue. No two persons agree as to the expression of Marochetti's Angel which stands over the Well. Is it pain?—pity?—resignation?—vengeance?—or triumph?" Perhaps my aunt, Lady Waterford, could have enlightened the learned doctor; for she it was who designed the monument, which was carried into execution by Marochetti.

A certain officer in high command was extremely agitated concerning the exact degree of precedence due to him—or rather, to the Service to which he belonged; a matter not easy to settle amid the throng of British dignitaries and Indian potentates. The officer chafed sorely at the delay; nor was he soothed by the injurious remarks of a junior member of the suite, who dealt with his dignity in a spirit of deplorable frivolity. At last, however, the junior member approached him with the aspect of sympathetic gravity proper to the occasion.


"I congratulate you, sir. That matter of your order of precedence has been settled at last."

"I am glad to hear it—very glad to hear it," said the officer. "The delay has been simply scandalous. What is to be my position?"

The junior member appeared to reflect.

"Oh, of course," he said, at length. "Now I remember. Your place, sir, is between the Ram of (something) and the Jam of (something else)!"

The distinguished officer: "...!!!"

On 30th November, 1875, while the Serapis was on her way from Bombay to Colombo, the Prince kindly presided at a dinner given in honour of my promotion to the rank of commander. In a letter written to me by his Royal Highness some years afterwards, he recalls that festivity, with a note of regret that those jolly days were gone. Three years afterwards, upon the occasion of my marriage, the suite presented me with a most beautiful silver bowl, which remains one of my most highly prized possessions.

There were many Babu poems composed to celebrate the Prince's prowess as a hunter. Among them, I remember the following:—

"Beautifully he will shoot
    Many a royal tiger brute;
Laying on their backs they die,
    Shot in the apple of the eye."

Seven years afterwards, I visited India again. It seemed to me that in the interval the relations between the Indian and the Englishman had changed for the better; in that the natives were less afraid of the white man, and that a better feeling had grown up between East and West. The principle upon which India is governed is the principle of establishing justice and humanity. India is governed by the sword; but the sword is sheathed.





The story of the Egyptian war may conveniently begin with an account of the affair of the 9th September, 1881, when Tewfik, Khedive of Egypt, met Arabi Pasha face to face in the Square of Abdin at Cairo, and failed to take advantage of the greatest opportunity of his life. Had he acted there and then upon the counsel of Mr. (afterwards Sir) Auckland Colvin, British Controller, it is possible that the Egyptian war might have been avoided.

The beginning of the trouble was the jealousy existing between the native Egyptian and the Turkish, or Circassian, elements of the army. Rightly or wrongly, the Egyptian, or fellah, officers believed themselves to be slighted. The Turkish, or Circassian, officers, being of the same race as the ruling family, regarded themselves as the dominant caste. In the time of Ismail Pasha, the predecessor of Tewfik, the Minister of War, Osman Pasha Rifki, a Circassian, perceived that his dignity was compromised by his being obliged to receive orders from the Khedive through Ali Fehmi, captain of the Guards at the Palace, a fellah. In the East, such a situation does not continue. Ali Fehmi mysteriously fell into disgrace. Naturally, he had a grievance; and he joined himself to two other officers of his race, who also had {171} grievances. These were Abdel-el-Al and Ahmed Arabi, who was to become better known as Arabi Pasha. They were called the "Three Colonels," and to them came Mahmoud Sami Pasha, an exceedingly astute politician.

Arabi's particular injury was that he had been punished by Ismail for creating a disturbance under the Palace windows, when he was one of the officers of the guard. Ismail had bluntly remarked that Arabi was more noisy but less useful than the big drum. Arabi joined a secret society of discontented officers, and shortly afterwards again fell into trouble under a charge of corruption while he was in command of transports during the war between Egypt and Abyssinia. Subsequently, Ismail allowed Arabi to join a regiment, whereupon he became chief of the secret society. One of its members divulged the secret to the Khedive, who adopted the Oriental method of buying the allegiance of the disaffected officers by promoting in one day seventy of them to be lieutenant-colonels. He also presented one of his slaves to Arabi to wife.

So much for Ismail Pasha. When, by order of the Sultan, he was superseded by Tewfik, Arabi made haste to do obeisance to the new Khedive, who made him a full colonel. But when Tewfik reduced the army, the Three Colonels presented a petition to the Khedive, demanding, among other matters, that an Egyptian should be made Minister of War in place of Osman Rifki. The Three Colonels were thereupon arrested. Mahmoud Sami Pasha, a member of the Cabinet, secretly arranged that when they were brought before the Court-martial, the soldiers should rescue them. On the 1st February, 1881, accordingly, the soldiers burst into the court, turned it inside out, and carried the Three Colonels to the Palace. The Khedive, confronted with physical force to which he had nothing to oppose, consented to supersede his War Minister in favour of the crafty Mahmoud Sami, to increase the army by 18,000 men, and to abolish favouritism.

The Khedive very soon discovered that Mahmoud Sami {172} was by no means a desirable Minister of War, and also that the Three Colonels and their friends continued to stir up trouble. He therefore dismissed Mahmoud Sami and appointed in his stead the Khedive's brother-in-law, Daoud Pasha, a Circassian, and ordered the disaffected regiments to leave Cairo. At the same time it was rumoured that the Khedive had obtained a secret decree from the Sultan condemning Arabi and his friends to death. When the order to remove his regiment from Cairo was received by Arabi, that leader of revolt informed the Minister of War on 9th September, 1881, that the troops in Cairo would proceed the same afternoon to the Palace of Abdin, there to demand of the Khedive the dismissal of the Ministry, the convocation of the National Assembly, and the increase of the army. Then came Tewfik's opportunity, which, as already observed, he let slip.

When the Khedive entered the Square, accompanied by Mr. Colvin, British Controller, and a few native and European officers, he was confronted with some 4000 soldiers and thirty guns. The following account of the critical moment is given by the Hon. Charles Royle, in his excellent history of The Egyptian Campaigns (London, 1900).

"The Khedive advanced firmly towards a little group of officers and men (some of whom were mounted) in the centre. Colvin said to him, 'When Arabi presents himself, tell him to give up his sword and follow you. Then go the round of the regiments, address each separately, and give them the "order to disperse."' The soldiers all this time were standing in easy attitudes, chatting, laughing, rolling up cigarettes, and eating pistachio nuts, looking, in fact, as little like desperate mutineers as could well be imagined. They apparently were there in obedience only to orders, and, without being either loyal or disloyal, might almost be regarded as disinterested spectators.

"Arabi approached on horseback: the Khedive called out to him to dismount. He did so, and came forward on foot with several others, and a guard with fixed bayonets, {173} and saluted. As he advanced, Colvin said to the Khedive, 'Now is the moment, give the word.' He replied, 'We are between four fires. We shall be killed.' Colvin said, 'Have courage.' Tewfik again wavered, he turned for counsel to a native officer at his side, and repeated, 'What can I do? We are between four fires.' He then told Arabi to sheathe his sword. Arabi did so at once, his hand trembling so with nervousness that he could scarcely get the weapon back into its scabbard. The moment was lost. Instead of following Colvin's advice, and arresting Arabi on the spot, a step which would have at once put an end to the whole disturbance, the Khedive walked towards him and commenced to parley."

The Khedive subsequently agreed to dismiss the Ministry at Arabi's request; and Arabi thus advanced another step towards obtaining military control of the country. For a time he prevented Cherif Pasha from forming a Ministry, and summoned to Cairo the Chamber of Notables. The members of the Chamber, however, whose office was purely advisory, supported Cherif Pasha. By means of a skilful intrigue, Mahmoud Sami contrived to obtain the appointment of Minister of War. Arabi then effected a temporary retreat with his regiment to El Ouady, in the Delta, and waited upon events. It was then October. The Khedive had convoked an assembly of the Chamber of Notables at the end of December, and in the meantime the elections were proceeding.

It should here be observed that Arabi did not merely represent discontent in the army. He had behind him a genuine and largely just popular agitation, the result of many evils suffered by the natives. "Ismail's merciless exactions, and the pressure of foreign moneylenders, had given rise to a desire to limit the power of the Khedive, and, above all, to abolish the Anglo-French control, which was considered as ruling the country simply for the benefit of the foreign bondholders. The control was further hated by the large landholders, because the law of liquidation (with {174} which the Controllers in the minds of the people were associated) had in a measure sacrificed their claims for compensation in respect of the cancelling of a forced loan known as the 'Moukabaleh,' and it was still more detested by the Pashas and native officials, because it interfered with the reckless squandering of public money, and the many opportunities for corruption by which they had so long been benefited. In addition to this, there was a great deal of irritation at the increasing number of highly paid European officials which the reformed administration inaugurated in the latter days of Ismail involved. The people began to suspect that what was occurring was only part of a plan for handing the country over to Europeans. The examples lately set by England with regard to Cyprus, and by France in Tunis, were, it must be owned, but little calculated to inspire confidence in the political morality of either of these two Powers" (Royle, The Egyptian Campaigns).

In these things consisted the reserve strength of Arabi; and while he was ostensibly in retirement at El Ouady (probably spending a good deal of time in Cairo with his fellow-conspirators), the native press continued to excite irritation against the Europeans; and when the new Chamber of Notables assembled on 25th December, 1881, they at once presented demands which brought the whole situation in Egypt to the notice of Europe. The Chamber demanded control of the revenues outside those assigned to the Public Debt, together with other new powers directly infringing the prerogatives of the Sultan and of the Khedive. It seems that Mahmoud Sami inspired these manifestations, not with any hope or desire that the demands of the Chamber would be granted, but because, as they were inadmissible, the Ministry of Cherif Pasha would be wrecked, and Mahmoud Sami thereby advantaged.

The British and French Governments declared that the demands of the Chamber were unacceptable. At the same time they learned that the coast fortifications were being strengthened and that the army was to be increased. On {175} behalf of the two Powers, a Joint Note was presented to the Khedive in Cairo, on 8th January, 1882, stating that England and France were united in opposing "the dangers to which the Government of the Khedive might be exposed."

The presentation of the Joint Note marks the beginning of that European intervention which might have prevented, but which did not prevent, the massacre in Alexandria of the 11th June, 1882, and which eventually resulted in the bombardment of that city on 11th July, 1882. The jealousy existing between France and England at that time in respect of intervention in Egypt, nullified the effective action of either party. Had M. Gambetta continued in power, he would probably have forced Lord Granville to adopt a decisive policy. But M. de Freycinet, who succeeded Gambetta while the question was still under discussion, was as much afraid of responsibility as Lord Granville was. Diplomacy thus returned to its customary routine of addressing Circular Notes to the European Powers, and generally avoiding definition as long as possible. Arabi seized his opportunity and announced that intervention on the part of England and France was inadmissible. The Chamber of Notables also saw their chance, and demanded the dismissal of the Ministry. The Khedive, apparently deserted by England and France, and much afraid of offending the Sultan, had no choice but to dismiss Cherif Pasha and to appoint in his stead Mahmoud Sami, who thus attained his object. Mahmoud Sami immediately appointed Arabi Pasha Minister of War. Arabi thus achieved a military dictatorship. It will be observed that his success was directly due to the vacillation of the English and French Governments. Mahmoud Sami at once forced the Khedive to assent to the demands of the Chamber, and the English and French Controllers resigned, upon the ground that "the Khedive's power no longer exists."

The dictators, Mahmoud Sami and Arabi (now Arabi Pasha), strengthened the coast fortifications, ordered ninety {176} guns of Herr Krupp, and rapidly increased the army. Then the dictators, considering that the hour of their vengeance had arrived, arrested fifty of the hated Circassian officers, (it is said) tortured them, and sentenced forty of them to perpetual exile. The Khedive refused to sign the Decree; whereupon Mahmoud Sami threatened that his refusal would be followed by a general massacre of foreigners. A month later, on 11th June, such a massacre occurred. In the meantime, the open quarrel between the Khedive on the one side, and his Ministers, backed by the army, on the other, created general alarm. Mahmoud Sami convoked the Chamber; only to discover that the Notables were afraid to support him. Under these circumstances, Mahmoud Sami and Arabi Pasha informed the Khedive that, on condition that he would guarantee the maintenance of public order, they would resign. The Khedive replied in effect that it was not he but Arabi that troubled Israel. On the next day, 15th May, 1882, the English and French Consuls-General warned Arabi that in the event of disturbance, England, France and Turkey would deal with him. Arabi retorted that if a Fleet arrived, he could not be responsible for the safety of the public. Upon the same day the Consul-General informed the Khedive that an Anglo-French Fleet was on its way to Alexandria, whereupon Mahmoud Sami and the rest of the Ministry made a formal submission to the Khedive.

Such was the first influence, exerted from afar, of naval power. But when, upon the 19th and 20th May, the ships arrived at Alexandria, the effect was considerably lessened; for the force consisted of no more than one British line-of-battle ship, H.M.S. Invincible, with two gunboats, and one French line-of-battle ship, La Gallisonière, with two gunboats. The object of the Granville-Freycinet diplomacy, to do something and yet not to do it, had thus been triumphantly achieved.

The instructions given to the British and French admirals respectively are worth noting.


The British admiral was told to:

"Communicate with the British Consul-General on arrival at Alexandria, and in concert with him propose to co-operate with naval forces of France to support the Khedive and protect British subjects and Europeans, landing a force, if required, for latter object, such force not to leave protection of ships' guns without instructions from home."

It will be observed that Admiral Sir Frederick Beauchamp Seymour was not given enough men to form an efficient landing party; so that the futile clause concerning "the protection of the ships' guns" is hardly worth considering.

The French instructions were at least logical. The French admiral was plainly told to do nothing except in an emergency.

"On arrival at Alexandria communicate with the Consul-General, who will, if necessary, indicate to you what you will have to do to give a moral support to the Khedive. You will abstain, until you have contrary instructions, from any material act of war, unless you are attacked or have to protect the safety of Europeans."

Acting on the advice of the Consuls-General, the Khedive endeavoured to induce Mahmoud Sami and Arabi to resign. The dictators refused. The Consuls-General thereupon presented them with an ultimatum, and the Ministry resigned; but the Khedive was subsequently compelled by the threats of the army and the prayers of the terrified notables to reinstate Arabi Pasha. That leader at once published a proclamation stating that he guaranteed the public safety, which failed, however, to allay the public fears. On 29th May the European population of Alexandria drew up a memorial, which was telegraphed to the Foreign Office, stating that they were placed in extreme peril, against which the force at the disposal of the British admiral was totally inadequate.

Upon the same day, Admiral Seymour reported that earthworks were being raised on shore, and asked for {178} reinforcements. On 30th May another line-of-battle ship arrived, with two gunboats, and three French warships. The rest of the British squadron in the Mediterranean were directed to cruise within touch of the admiral.

On the 7th June an Imperial Commissioner, Dervish Pasha, dispatched by the Sultan, arrived at Cairo. He was instructed to play a double part, the object of his mission being to counteract European influence. It was a complicated intrigue; but it is not worth unravelling, because Dervish Pasha presently discovered that the ruler of Egypt was Arabi Pasha.

Such is a summary of events up to the eve of the riots in Alexandria. At that moment, Arabi Pasha was military dictator; backed by the army and supported by popular sentiment: the Khedive, still nominally ruler, was deprived of power and went in peril of his life; the Sultan, his overlord, whose dominant motive was the desire to avoid foreign intervention in Egypt, wrapped himself in diplomatic ambiguity; England and France, the only interested foreign Powers, each afraid of the other and both afraid of incurring responsibility, were in a state of miserable vacillation, for which (as usual) many helpless and innocent persons paid with their lives and property. In these circumstances, the advantage lay with the man who knew his own mind. That man was Arabi Pasha.

It seemed that nothing could better serve his ends than an organised massacre of Europeans by the populace, during which the police and the army should remain passive; for nothing could more effectually demonstrate the power of the dictator, bring the Khedive into contempt, flout the foreign Powers which had exhibited so contemptible a weakness, and delight the populace.

Accordingly, on Sunday, 11th June, 1882, a devastating riot broke out in Alexandria. The natives had been armed beforehand with naboots, or long sticks; the mustaphazin, or military police, joined in the attack; the soldiers remained immobile until Arabi telegraphed his orders from Cairo, {179} when they at once stopped the disturbance. During the day, men, women and children, European and native, were shot, beaten, and murdered, and the town was looted. The loss of life was estimated at 150 persons.

In the evening the troops restored order, and subsequently maintained it up to the day of the bombardment. During that period, large numbers of persons left the city. Refugees of all nations were embarked in the harbour.

Lord Salisbury, who was then in Opposition, trenchantly exposed the true character of a policy whose direct result was that British subjects were "butchered under the very guns of the Fleet, which had never budged an inch to save them." The Government had not given the admiral an adequate force. It was the old story of the naval officer being forced to subserve the ends of the politicians.

In England, public indignation forced the Government to take action. The Channel Squadron was dispatched to Malta, there to remain at Admiral Seymour's disposal. Two battalions were sent to Cyprus.

Arabi Pasha brought more troops to Alexandria and continued to fortify the coast defences. In the meantime the Navy was helping to embark the refugees.

From this point, the general course of events may conveniently be related in the form of a diary, thus supplementing, for the purposes of reference, the detailed narrative of Lord Charles Beresford.

On 11th July the British Fleet bombarded the coast forts. The warships of other nations took no part in the action. The British force consisted of fifteen vessels and 5728 men; eight ironclads, five gunboats, a torpedo vessel and dispatch vessel. The forts were silenced and the gunners were driven from their batteries.

On 12th July the city was set on fire by the Egyptian troops. These, accompanied by civilians, looted the city and so departed.

On 13th July the British admiral landed 800 men. It will be observed that had Admiral Seymour been permitted {180} to land a force upon the preceding day, he could have disarmed the Egyptian troops and prevented the conflagration. The Khedive had taken refuge in his Palace at Ramleh, and the Condor, Commander Lord Charles Beresford, was sent to lie off the Palace to protect him. Captain John Fisher, H.M.S. Inflexible, was ordered to take command of the landing party. Upon occupying the outer lines, Captain Fisher, finding chaos in the town, in rear of his position, applied for an officer to exercise the duties of provost-marshal and chief of police, and suggested that Lord Charles Beresford should be appointed.

On 14th July the British force was occupying all important positions.

On 15th July Admiral Dowell, commanding the Channel Squadron, arrived in the Monarch. Lord Charles Beresford was appointed provost-marshal and chief of police to restore order.

Mr. John Ross, the British merchant in Alexandria who gave unsparing and generous assistance to the British forces,—services for which he has never received recognition—writes to me as follows:—

"Lord Charles Beresford saved millions' worth of property, causing the indemnity paid by the European Government to be much less than it would otherwise have been. I can assure you that there was a chance of the whole of Alexandria being burnt to the ground, had it not been for the wonderfully prompt, energetic, and scientific arrangements made by Lord Charles Beresford... I do not think England can ever be made to know properly and understand and appreciate enough with regard to what Lord Charles Beresford did for his country as well as for Egypt in 1882."

On 17th July 1000 Marines and 1700 soldiers arrived. General Sir Archibald Alison took command of the whole of the land forces, now numbering in all, 3686.

On the 20th July the British Government decided to dispatch an expedition to Egypt.

On the 21st July the water supply of Alexandria began {181} to fail, Arabi having dammed the flow from the Nile into the Mahmoudieh Canal, and let salt water into it from Lake Mareotis. Hitherto the supply had been maintained by the gallant exertions of Mr. T. E. Cornish, manager of the waterworks. Sir Archibald Alison began his attacking movements.

On the 22nd July the Khedive dismissed Arabi Pasha from his post of Minister of War. Arabi Pasha was now at Kafr Dowar with 5000 to 30,000 men. A battalion of British troops sailed from Bombay.

On the 24th July Mr. Gladstone informed Parliament that the country was "not at war." On the same day the British troops occupied Ramleh, a suburb of Alexandria.

At this time Captain Fisher fitted out the armoured train.

On the 30th July the Scots Guards sailed for Alexandria. From the beginning to end of the war, there were dispatched, or under orders, from Great Britain and Mediterranean stations, 1290 officers and 32,000 men. Add the Indian contingent, 170 officers, 7100 men, consisting of 1st Seaforths, 1st Manchester, 1 Bombay and 2 Bengal battalions Native Infantry, 3 regiments Bengal Cavalry, 1 field battery, 1 mountain battery, and a section of Madras Sappers and Miners. Add to these, 3500 followers, 1700 horses, 840 ponies, 5000 mules.

On the 1st August Lord Charles Beresford, having in the space of a fortnight saved the town of Alexandria from destruction and restored complete order, was relieved by Major Gordon.

On the 2nd August Admiral Sir William Hewett, with six vessels of war, occupied Suez.

On 3rd August the National Council declared its support of Arabi Pasha.

On 5th August General Alison attacked and defeated the enemy on the Mahmoudieh Canal.

On the 7th August the Khedive issued a proclamation directed against Arabi Pasha and rebellion.


On the 10th August Sir John Adye, chief of staff, with the Duke of Connaught, arrived at Alexandria.

On the 12th August the Brigade of Guards, the Duke of Connaught at their head, marched through Alexandria to Ramleh, greatly impressing the populace.

On the 15th, General Commanding-in-Chief Sir Garnet Wolseley and Major-General Sir Evelyn Wood arrived at Alexandria.

On the 18th August the greater part of the troops embarked for Port Said, the transports being escorted by five ironclads.

On the night of the 19th-20th August the Navy took entire possession of the Suez Canal. The Monarch and Iris took Port Said. The Orion, Northumberland, Carysfort and Coquette took Ismailia. Admiral Hewett had already seized Suez.

On the 20th of August the troops and warships from Alexandria arrived at Port Said, together with Admiral Sir Beauchamp Seymour in the Helicon. M. Ferdinand de Lesseps had done his utmost to prevent the seizure of the Canal, which, he insisted, was neutral. It is said that when the troops began to disembark at Ismailia, M. de Lesseps, erect upon the landing-place, announced that "no one should land except over his dead body"; to which defiance a bluejacket, gently urging aside the heroic engineer, replied, "We don't want any dead bodies about here, sir; all you've got to do is to step back a bit" (Royle, Egyptian Campaigns).

On the 21st August Sir Garnet Wolseley arrived at Ismailia in the Salamis, and, by orders of the Khedive, issued a proclamation announcing that the sole object of Her Majesty's Government was "to re-establish the authority of the Khedive."

The advance into the Delta was begun.

On the 24th August Wolseley captured the dam on the Fresh Water Canal.

On the 25th August the enemy were driven back upon {183} Tel-el-Kebir. Mahmoud Fehmi Pasha, one of the original "Three Colonels," now Arabi's chief of staff, was captured at Mahsameh railway station.

On the 28th August occurred the action at Kassassin, in which the Egyptians were defeated. Kassassin was occupied. During the next few days men and stores were assembled there.

On the 9th September Arabi attacked Kassassin in force and was driven back to Tel-el-Kebir. Sir Garnet Wolseley made Kassassin his headquarters.

On the 12th September the army was concentrated at Kassassin. On that night the troops advanced towards Tel-el-Kebir.

On the 13th September an attack at dawn was made in three places upon the Egyptian entrenchments. The British carried them under a heavy fire at the point of the bayonet. The action was decisive. Arabi's power was broken. Arabi fled to Cairo.

The 6th Bengal Cavalry captured Zag-a-Zig the same evening; and the Cavalry division occupied Belbeis.

On 14th August the Cavalry Division rode from Belbeis to Cairo, starting at dawn and arriving at Abbassieh at 4.45 p.m. The same night, Captain Watson, R.E., disarmed the troops in the Citadel and occupied Cairo.

On the 15th August Sir Garnet Wolseley and the Guards arrived at Cairo, a day before scheduled time.

During the next week, Kafr Dowar, a place of equal importance with Tel-el-Kebir, Aboukir, Rosetta and Damietta, surrendered.

From the bombardment of Alexandria to the capture of Cairo was sixty-six days, of which the campaign occupied twenty-five days.

On the 25th September the Khedive returned to Cairo, where the greater number of the British troops assembled. Subsequently, Admiral Sir Beauchamp Seymour and Sir Garnet Wolseley were created Peers of the United Kingdom.


Arabi Pasha was tried by court-martial on a charge of rebellion against the Khedive, and was condemned to death, the sentence being commuted to exile for life. In December, Arabi and six of his friends who had been sentenced sailed for Ceylon.




My appointment to H.M.S. Condor was dated 31st December, 1881. The Condor was a single-screw composite sloop gun-vessel of 780 tons and 770 h.p., carrying one 4½-ton gun amidships, one 64-pr. forward and one 64-pr. aft, all muzzle-loading guns. In June, 1882, the Condor formed part of the squadron lying off Alexandria under the command of Admiral Sir Beauchamp Seymour.

On Sunday, 11th June, calling upon Captain Blomfield, the harbour-master, I found him in great distress. He had heard that there was trouble in the city, into which his wife had gone, and he was extremely anxious about her safety. We took a light carriage harnessed to a pair of Arab horses and drove into the town. Presently a great crowd came running down the street towards us. They were mostly Greeks, many of whom were wounded and bleeding. The next moment we were surrounded by a raging mob, armed with naboots, or long sticks, with which they attacked us. The street was blocked from end to end; and to have attempted to drive through the mob would have been certain death. I seized the reins, swung the horses round, cleared the crowd, and drove back to the harbour-master's house. In the meantime his wife had taken refuge in an hotel, whence she safely returned later in the day.

The officers and men of the Fleet were ordered back to {186} their ships. I went on board the flagship and reported to the admiral the condition of the town. With the trifling force at his disposal, it was impossible that he should send a landing-party ashore. Had he done so, in contravention of his orders, the handful of British seamen and Marines would have had no chance against the thousands of Egyptian soldiers who, under Arabi's instructions, were waiting in their barracks under arms, ready to turn out at the first attempt at intervention on the part of the Fleet.

During the ensuing month there poured out of Alexandria an immense number of refugees of all nations and every class of society. These were placed on board various vessels and were dispatched to the ports of their several countries. I was placed in charge of these operations; which included the chartering of ships, their preparation for passengers, and the embarkation of the refugees. In the course of the work there fell to me a task rarely included even among the infinite variety of the duties of a naval officer. My working-party was stowing native refugees in the hold of a collier, when a coloured lady was taken ill. She said: "Baby he come, sare, directly, sare, myself, sare." And so it was. We rigged up a screen, and my coxswain and I performed the office of midwives thus thrust upon us, and all went well.

On the 10th July all merchant vessels and all foreign men-of-war left the harbour, and the British Fleet prepared for action. Admiral Seymour's squadron consisted of fifteen vessels: the ironclads Alexandra (flagship), Captain C. F. Hotham; Superb, Captain T. Le Hunte Ward; Sultan, Captain W. J. Hunt-Grubbe; Téméraire, Captain H. F. Nicholson; Inflexible, Captain J. A. Fisher; Monarch, Captain H. Fairfax, C.B.; Invincible, Captain R. H. M. Molyneux; Penelope, Captain S. J. C. D'Arcy-Irvine: the torpedo-vessel Hecla, Captain A. K. Wilson; gunboats Condor, Commander Lord C. Beresford; Bittern, Commander Hon. T. S. Brand; Beacon, Commander G. W. Hand; Cygnet, Lieutenant H. C. D. Ryder; Decoy, Lieutenant A. H. Boldero; and dispatch vessel {187} Helicon, Lieutenant W. L. Morrison. The coast fortifications extended over a front of rather more than nine miles, from Fort Marabout on the south-west to Fort Silsileh on the north-east. Midway between the two, projects the forked spit of land whose northern arm encircles the new Port, and whose southern arm, extending in a breakwater, encloses the old Port. The twelve forts or batteries mounted in all 261 guns and mortars.


The bombardment of Alexandria has been so thoroughly described in standard works that repetition must be unnecessary; and such interest as the present narrative may contain, must reside in the record of personal experience. I may say at once that any notoriety attached to the part borne by the Condor in the action was due to accidental circumstance. She happened to fight apart from the rest of the Fleet and in full view of the foreign warships and merchant vessels; and, in obedience to the orders of the admiral, she had on board the correspondent of The Times, the late Mr. Moberly Bell. The Condor was actually under way when I received instructions to embark Mr. Bell. Mr. Frederic Villiers, the artist war-correspondent, by permission of the admiral, had been my guest on board for several days.

The following account of the action is taken from a private letter written at the time:—

"The night before the action, I turned up all hands and made them a speech. I said that the admiral's orders were to keep out of range until an opportunity occurred. So I said to the men, 'Now, my lads, if you will rely upon me to find the opportunity, I will rely upon you to make the most of it when it occurs.' ... The Marabout Fort was the second largest fort, but a long way off from the places to be attacked by the ironclads. So the admiral had decided not to attack it at all, as he could not spare one heavy ship, and of course he would not order the small ships down there, as it was thought that they would be sunk. The orders given to the small ships were to keep out of fire, and to watch for an opportunity to occur, after the forts were silenced, to assist. {188} Helicon and Condor were repeating ships for signals. I took station just between the two attacking fleets.

"Just as the action began the Téméraire parted her cable and got ashore. I ran down to her and towed her off and while doing so, saw Fort Marabout giving pepper to Monarch, Invincible and Penelope. Not one of these ships could be spared, as they were getting it hot and could not spare a gun for Marabout from the forts they were engaging. Seeing the difficulty, directly I had got the Téméraire afloat I steamed down at full speed and engaged Fort Marabout, on the principle that according to orders 'an opportunity' had occurred.... I thought we should have a real rough time of it, as I knew of the heavy guns, and I knew that one shot fairly placed must sink us. But I hoped to be able to dodge the shoals, of which there were many, and get close in, when I was quite sure they would fire over us. That is exactly what occurred. I got in close and manoeuvred the ship on the angle of the fort, so that the heavy guns could hardly bear on me, if I was very careful. The smooth-bores rained on us, but only two shots hit, the rest went short or over. One heavy shot struck the water about six feet from the ship, wetting everyone on the upper deck with spray, and bounded over us in a ricochet.

"I did not fire on the smooth-bores at all until I had silenced the heavy guns which were annoying Invincible, Monarch, and Penelope. The men fired splendidly. I put all down to the lectures I have given them at target practice, telling them never to throw a shot away, but always to wait until they got the sights on.


"Hedworth Lambton told me afterwards that the admiral had just sent on the signal for the Monarch to go to Fort Marabout as soon as she could be spared, when he heard a cheer from his own men. He asked, 'What's that?' and they told him they were cheering the Condor. Just then our three guns were fired, and each shot hit in the middle of the heavy battery, and the Invincible's men burst into a cheer. The admiral said, 'Good God, she'll be sunk!' when off {189} went our guns again, cheers rang out again from the flagship and the admiral, instead of making 'Recall Condor; made 'Well done, Condor' ... at the suggestion of Hedworth Lambton, the flag-lieutenant.

"We then remained there two and a half hours, and had silenced the fort all except one gun, when the signal was made to all the other small craft to assist Condor, and down they came and pegged away. I was not sorry, as the men were getting a bit beat. We were then recalled to the flagship, 'Captain repair on board,' and the admiral's ship's company gave us three cheers, and he himself on the quarterdeck shook me warmly by the hand, and told me he was extremely pleased.... I never saw such pluck as the Egyptians showed. We shelled them and shot them, but still they kept on till only one gun was left in action. It was splendid.... Nothing could have been more clever than the way the admiral placed his ships.... The wounded are all doing well. One man had his foot shot off, and he picked it up in his hand and hopped down to the doctor with it.... The troops hoisted a flag of truce the day after the action; and while we waited I sent to find out why it was they were marched away, having set fire to the town in many places. It has been burning ever since." ...

The day after the bombardment, Captain Wilson (now Admiral of the Fleet Sir A. K. Wilson, V.C., G.C.B., O.M., G.C.V.O) hauled down the flag of the Marabout Fort and presented it to me. It is now in the Museum of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. The commandant of Fort Marabout was so excellent an officer that when I was appointed provost-marshal and governor of the town by the admiral, I placed him on my staff to assist me in restoring order.




The bombardment took place on the 11th July. On the 12th, as I have narrated, the Egyptian soldiery fired the city, looted it, and evacuated the defences. On the same day the Khedive was surrounded in his Palace at Ramleh by some 400 of Arabi's cavalry and infantry, a force subsequently reduced to about 250 men. That evening Admiral Seymour was informed that the Khedive was in danger. The admiral dispatched the Condor to lie off Ramleh; and there we lay all that night, rolling heavily, with a spring on the cable to enable the guns to be trained upon the sandy lane down which the soldiers must advance if they intended to take the Palace.

It was arranged that, if the Palace were attacked, the Khedive should hang a white sheet from a window, and I would at once take measures to secure his safety. The night went by without alarm; and next day Tewfik, escorted by a guard of native cavalry, went to the Ras-el-Tin Palace, where he was received by Admiral Seymour and a guard of Marines. Commander Hammill (who afterwards performed excellent service on the Nile), with a landing-party of 250 bluejackets and 150 Marines, had already taken possession of the Ras-el-Tin Peninsula.

Upon the same day Captain John Fisher, H.M.S. Inflexible (afterwards Admiral of the Fleet Lord Fisher of Kilverstone, O.M.), was ordered to take command of the {191} landing-party whose business was to secure the outer defences of the city. Captain Fisher, having occupied the lines, had a zone of anarchy, incendiarism and chaos, comprising the whole city, in the rear of his position. He at once made application for an officer to be appointed provost-marshal and chief of police, suggesting my name for the post; and the admiral gave me orders to assume this office. As a narrative written at the time owns a certain intrinsic interest, I make no apology for transcribing further passages from private letters.

            THE ARSENAL, 25th July, 1882

"... I landed on the 14th July, armed myself, got a horse and a guide and an escort of about thirty Egyptian cavalry, and started to overhaul the town, and see how I could best carry out my orders to 'restore law and order as soon as possible, put out fires, bury the dead, and clear the streets.' I never saw anything so awful as the town on that Friday; streets, square, and blocks of buildings all on fire, roaring and crackling and tumbling about like a hell, let loose Arabs murdering each other for loot under my nose, wretches running about with fire-balls and torches to light up new places, all the main thoroughfares impassable from burning fallen houses, streets with many corpses in them, mostly murdered by the Arab soldiers for loot—these corpses were Arabs murdered by each other—in fact, a pandemonium of hell and its devils.

"I took a chart with me and arranged the different parts of the town where I should make depots and police stations. The admiral could only spare me 60 bluejackets and 70 Marines from the British Fleet; but he obtained a proportionate number from the foreign warships. By sunset I had 620 men in the different depots, mostly foreigners.... I had only 140 men to patrol the town, to stop the looting, to stop the 'fresh burning' of houses, to bury the corpses, and to protect the lives of those who had come on shore. By {192} quickly sending the men about in parties in different parts of the town, and by employing Arabs to inform me when and where certain houses might be burnt, I often managed to get a patrol there just in time to stop it, and the people thought there were 600 police in the town instead of 140. For the foreign bluejackets were ordered to occupy their respective Legations and not to take any part in restoring order. This was of course in the first seventy-two hours, during which time neither myself nor my men slept one wink, as at 12 o'clock on two occasions an alarm was sounded that Arabi was attacking the lines, and all of us had to peg away to the front, where we had to remain until daylight, expecting attack every moment. These alarms lost many houses, as the mob set them alight while we were at the front; however, it was unavoidable.

JULY, 1882.

"On Monday, 17th July, I was sent 400 more men (bluejackets) in answer to my urgent appeal to the admiral, as so many fanatic Arabs were coming into the town, ... but on Tuesday the 18th the bluejackets were all ordered off to their ships and 600 picked Marines were sent in their place.... After I had planned to get the town into order on the Friday (14th) I went to the Arsenal and wrote a Proclamation....

"I went off to the admiral on the following (Saturday) morning, and submitted that I should be allowed to post the Proclamation throughout the town. Sir A. Colvin and the Khedive were strongly opposed to the Proclamation; but the admiral approved of the scheme. Some of the authorities suggested that if I shot anybody it would be well to shoot him at night, or in the prisons, and then no one would know, and there would be no row. This I stoutly refused, demanding my own way for restoring order, and saying that a fair honest Proclamation was the proper line to take, as all persons would then know what would happen to them if they committed certain specified acts. I carried my point, and the admiral supported me, and on Saturday night (15th) I had the whole town proclaimed in Arabic, stating that persons {193} caught firing houses would be shot, persons caught looting twice would be shot; all persons to return to their homes, etc., with confidence, and anyone wanting to get information or to lodge complaints to repair instantly to the chief of police.

"By Wednesday (19th) I had perfect order in the town, and all firing of houses had been stopped, life was comparatively safe, looting nearly stopped. By Friday the 21st, one week after taking charge, all the fires were put out, all the corpses buried, and things were generally ship-shape. I could not have done this unless the admiral had trusted entirely to me, and given me absolute power of life and death, or to flog, or to blow down houses, or to do anything that I thought fit to restore law and order and to put the fires out. I only had to shoot five men by drumhead court-martial sentence, besides flogging a certain number, to effect what I have told you.

"I had a clear thoroughfare through every street in the town by Monday (24th), and all débris from fallen houses piled up each side and all dangerous walls pulled down. These things were done by organising large working parties of from 100 to 200 hired Arabs. At first I collected them at the point of the bayonet and made them work, but I paid them a good wage every evening, and the bayonets were unnecessary after the first day, when they found that England would pay well.

"I also collected all the fire-engines I could find, bought some, and requisitioned others, got some artificers from the Fleet and got the engines in order, had a bluejacket fire-brigade, and also a working party of Arabs on the same footing as the road brigade. These worked exclusively at the fires, and not at patrolling unless at urgent necessity. Besides these I had a sanitary committee, which buried any bodies we might have missed, burned refuse and remains of loot about the streets, and reburied any bodies which might not have been buried deep enough, besides enforcing cleanliness directly the town began to get a little bit shipshape. There was a corps of native police to work under {194} my patrols, and when I turned all the affairs over, I had 260 of these men.

"I disarmed all Europeans found in the streets with revolvers, and by so doing saved many a row in the town, as the class I have mentioned returned in thousands after the bombardment, and they treated the Arabs as if they, the Europeans, had silenced the forts and policed the town. I put many in irons for looting, and for shooting at inoffensive Arabs.

"The greatest triumph was the formation of an Egyptian court to try the serious cases I had on hand for life and death and long terms of imprisonment. Not only did tret the court formed to try what cases I chose to bring before it but after sentence of death I insisted on Egyptian authorities making the Egyptian soldiers (the loyal ones) themselves shooting the prisoners whom the court sentenced....

"I had four gallopers and four Marine orderly gallopers, in default of whom I could not have done things so quickly in the many different departments, nineteen horses, and a telephone to each station. I paid all the carts requisitioned in the town for carrying my men's provisions, loot, etc. etc. The officer using them signed a chit stating the hour he had taken a cart and for what service, and then the man came to my office to be paid, which he was instantly. By this means good feeling was established between the people and the military police. Each depot had two interpreters attached to it to avoid any misunderstanding, and for explanations when trying prisoners and interrogating witnesses....

"The Marine officer thoroughly investigated each case, examined all witnesses, and then placed the evidence on a regular charge-sheet, stating whether he believed the prisoner guilty or not guilty, and his reason for that opinion. If it was a serious case, I again tried it myself and judged accordingly. There were several cases of blackmailing at first, but these were soon stopped....

"Besides the courts held at the Police Depots, courts were {195} held at the Tribunal Zaptieh and the Caracol l'A'ban, at which Egyptian officers acted as judges. In each court were three shorthand-writers, each placed behind a separate screen, and under the charge of a sergeant of Marines, to prevent collusion, who submitted their reports to me, in order that I should receive three independent accounts of the proceedings, upon which I could intervene if necessary, in order to prevent anyone being shot if there were not the clearest and most uncompromising evidence of his guilt. If there were any discrepancy in the reports, I had the prisoner retried. I did this in three cases. Another case, in which the circumstantial evidence, though very strong, was not conclusive, I reprieved."

The following troops assisted the British forces in restoring order: 125 Americans, about the American Consulate; 30 Germans, about the German Consulate and Hospital; and 140 Greeks about the Greek Consulate and Hospital. On the 16th July, Captain Briscoe (a son of an old Waterford man who hunted the Curraghmore hounds after the death of my uncle, Henry Lord Waterford) of the P. and O. Tanjore volunteered his services, and with 20 Italians of his crew, did excellent work. Other volunteers who assisted me were Mr. Towrest, a member of the Customs, and Mr. Wallace. Major Hemel, R.M.L.I., and Captain Creaghi, R.M.L.I., were appointed magistrates. These Marine officers performed invaluable services.

I had special reason to be grateful to Mr. John Ross, a British merchant of Alexandria, who gave me every assistance in his power. He knew every yard of the place. He gave me invaluable advice with regard to the organisation of the city, obtained interpreters, and helped to supply the troops, placing his stores at my disposal. He would have dispensed with receipts for articles supplied, had I not insisted upon his taking them. Mr. Ross supplied the whole Fleet with coal, fresh meat, and all necessaries; his help was quite inestimable, his energy and patriotism beyond praise; {196} but although he must have suffered considerable losses, he received no recognition of any kind from the Governnment except the naval medal.

Mr. Ross gave me great assistance also in parcelling out Mehemet Ali Square among the country purveyors of produce, each of whom received a permit, written in English and in Arabic, to occupy a certain space, duly pegged out, in which to put up their booths. This measure restored confidence. One old lady, a stout person of Levantine origin, thought that the permit entitled her to perpetual freehold; and she subsequently attempted to sue the Egyptian Government for damages, producing my permit as evidence.

Upon first going ashore to restore order, I found whole streets blocked with smouldering ruins. Putting my horse at one such obstacle, I scrambled over it; and I had scarce reached the other side when a wall fell bodily behind me, cutting off my escort, who had to fetch a compass round the side streets to rejoin me.

Without taking the smallest notice of me or of my escort, men were shooting at one another, quarrelling over loot, and staggering along, laden with great bundles, like walking balloons. The streets were speedily cleared of these rioters by the use of machine guns. The method adopted was to fire the gun over their heads, and as they fled, to run the gun round turnings and head them off again, so that they received the impression that the town was full of guns. On no occasion did I fire the gun at them. The principles upon which order was restored were to punish disobedience, to enlist labour and to pay for it fairly.

The prisoners taken were organised in separate gangs set to work, and paid less than the rest of the labourers! The most critical part of the business of extinguishing fires and preventing incendiarism occurred at the Tribunal, which was stored with property worth many thousands of pounds. A fire-engine was purchased for its protection at a cost of £160, 18s. 1d. The total expenses of the restoration or {197} order were, I think, under £2000. During the fortnight I was on shore, every station and port was visited at least once a day and twice a night.

On one such inspection I gave my horse to an Arab lad to hold. A few minutes afterwards there was the crack of a pistol. I ran out, and there was the boy lying on the ground a bullet-wound in his chest. To satisfy his curiosity he had been fingering the 4-barrel Lancaster pistol in the holster, and that was the end of him, poor lad.

Upon another occasion, when I was at work in one of my stations, a sudden tumult arose in the street. I went put, to perceive a huge Irish Marine Artilleryman engaged in furious conflict with five or six men of the patrol. They had got handcuffs on him, and he was fighting with manacled hands. I asked the sergeant what was the matter.

"He's drunk, sir. We are going to lock him up."

"Let him go," I said.

The men fell back; and the Irishman, seeing an iron railing, raised his hands above his head and brought them down upon the iron, smashing the handcuffs, and turned upon me like a wild beast at bay. The man was in a frenzy. Standing directly in front of him, I spoke to him quietly.

"Now, my lad, listen to me. You're an Irishman." He looked down at me. "You're an Irishman, and you've had a little too much to drink, like many of us at times. But you are all right. Think a moment. Irishmen don't behave like this in the presence of the enemy. Nor will you. Why, we may be in a tight place to-morrow, and who's going to back me then? You are. You're worth fifty of the enemy. You're the man I want."

As I talked to him, the expression of his face changed from desperation to a look of bewilderment, and from bewilderment to understanding; and then he suddenly broke down. He turned his head aside and cried. I told the sergeant to take him away and give him some tea.

Having heard from the Governor of Alexandria that a {198} quantity of arms was concealed in a village lying a few miles outside the city, I took thither a party of Egyptian military police and a guard of Marines. On the way we were joined by some 800 British soldiers, who surrounded the village, while the police conducted a house-to-house search. A certain newspaper correspondent accompanied me. The police knocked at the door of a house, and received no reply; whereupon the correspondent drew his revolver and incontinently blew in the lock. I told him that he had no right to do such a thing; that he might have killed innocent persons; and that he must not do it again.

"Oh, but," says he, "you don't understand how to do these things."

I requested him to understand that I was provost-marshal, and that unless he obeyed orders, he would be sent back to Alexandria.

"Oh, but," says he, "you can't do that. You don't understand——"

"Sergeant!" said I, "a file of Marines."

"Oh, but," protested the correspondent, "you can't——"

"Sergeant, take this gentleman back to Alexandria."

It was a long walk and a hot walk home.

On the 17th July, General Sir Archibald Alison took command of the land forces. At the request of the general, the admiral ordered me to remain in command of the police until 1st August, when I was relieved by Major Gordon. It was about this time that Captain Fisher devised his armoured train, which, carrying armed bluejackets, made daily sorties. A bluejacket sitting on the rail was ordered to come down by his officer.

"I can't see 'em from down below," he said. The next moment he was hit by a bullet. "They've found the range, sir," said he, as he tumbled over.

Admiral Sir Beauchamp Seymour was good enough to address to me a very gratifying letter of commendation for my services. Among the many kind congratulations I {199} received, I valued especially the letters from the captains under whom I had served in various ships, and many admirals with whom I had served. On 11th July I was promoted to the rank of captain. In the following September the Admiralty forwarded to Admiral Sir Beauchamp Seymour (raised in November to a peerage as Baron Alcester) the expression of their satisfaction at the services of Captain Fisher and of myself.

I overheard a lady finding great fault with my old chief, Sir Beauchamp Seymour. I asked her what she had against Lord Alcester.

"Why," said she, "he is a Goth and a Vandal. Did he not burn the Alexandrian Library?"

A sequel to the work in Alexandria was my conversation with Mr. Gladstone on the subject, which took place upon my return home some weeks later. Mr. Gladstone sent for me; and after most courteously expressing his appreciation of my services, he discussed the question of compensation to the inhabitants of Alexandria who had suffered loss and damage. The information he required I had carefully collected in Alexandria by means of an organised intelligence corps, upon each of whom was impressed the fact that if he gave false information he would most certainly be punished. My view was then, and is now, that the whole of the claims might have been justly settled for a million sterling, upon these conditions: that the question should be tackled at once; that all palpably unwarranted claims should be repudiated from the outset, because if they were recorded as claims there would eventually be no way of rebutting them, and it would be found necessary to pay them ultimately; that doubtful claims should be held over for consideration; and that the proved claims should be paid immediately. The important point was that in order to avoid difficulties in disputes in the future, the matter should be dealt with at once.

I knew of a case (and of other similar cases) in which a jeweller who had contrived to remove the whole of his stock {200} into safety after the riot, put in a claim for the value of the whole of the said goods.

These considerations I laid before Mr. Gladstone, informing him also, in the light of the special information which had come to my knowledge, that if the matter were allowed to drift, the sum to be disbursed, instead of being about a million, would probably amount to some four millions.

In the event, the International Commission of Indemnities paid £4,341,011.




When I was relieved, on 1st August (1882), of the post of provost-marshal and chief of police, the Condor was ordered to keep the Mex lines and citadel, which defended the south-western boundary of Alexandria, forming a barrier across the long and narrow strip of land which extends between the sea and Lake Mareotis, and upon which the city is built. The fortifications of the sea front were continued, with a brief interval, at right angles to the sea face, extending no more than some three-quarters of the distance across the strip of land, so that between one end of the fortifications and the sea, and between the other end and the shore of Lake Mareotis, there were undefended spaces. It was therefore necessary to frame a plan of defence with the force and materials at command, sufficient to hold this left flank of the city against the large bodies of rebel soldiery and Arabs hovering in the vicinity. Thirty men from the Condor were brought on shore, with the band, which, consisting of one drum and one fife, was few and humble but convincing.

The two forts on the earthwork were manned; a 40-pounder smooth-bore taken from one of the Mex Forts was mounted on the roof of the fort nearest to Lake Mareotis, whence it was fired at regular intervals at the enemy occupying the earthworks on the farther shore of the Lake. After five days they were knocked out of the place. {202} Charges were made for the gun out of the miscellaneous ammunition found in the Mex Forts.

The gun used to capsize almost every time it was fired. It was served by a Maltese gunner, who became so superstitiously devoted to his commanding officer, that when I was relieved by Colonel Earle, my Maltese never received an order without observing that "Lord Charles Beresford not do that, sare"; until Earle lost patience, as well he might.

"D—n Lord Charles Beresford!" said he.

Wire entanglements were fixed along the face of the earthworks. In the two open spaces at the ends of the line of fortifications, rockets were buried, and a lanyard was led along from the firing tube to a peg in the ground, so that anyone passing that way at night would trip over the lanyard, thus firing the rocket, and causing a beautiful fountain of fire to spring from the ground, lighting up the whole locality. The device soon stopped nocturnal intrusions.

The open space at the Mareotis end was also commanded by a Gatling gun mounted on the roof of the fort. In the forts and earthworks were about twenty miscellaneous guns. These were all kept loaded; the powder being taken from the vast amount of loose powder stored in the Mex lines. The guns were connected with trigger lines to the forts, so that the whole lot could be fired from one place. The railway lines leading from Mex Harbour through the fortification, and, on the other side of the strip of land, from the causeway leading across Lake Mareotis into the city, were repaired. The railway bridge by Lake Mareotis was repaired, and a torpedo was placed beneath it in case of attack. A picquet of Marines occupied a truck placed on the bridge. The train was set running. The two drawbridges leading to the forts were repaired. The men garrisoning the works were housed in tents made out of the sails of the Arab dhows lying in Mex camber. A tank was obtained from Alexandria, and fresh water brought into it. On the sea {203} side of the position, the Condor commanded the flank of the approaches.

Having thus secured this flank of the city against attack, so that it could be held against a large force, it was necessary to make reconnaissances into the surrounding country. The little landing-party went ashore every evening at 5.30 (with the band, few and humble but convincing) and occupied the lines. Every morning at seven o'clock they returned to the ship; and during the afternoon went out upon reconnaissance, accompanied by a boat's gun mounted in a bullock cart, and a rocket-tube mounted on another bullock cart. Two horses were harnessed to each cart, assisted, when required, by bluejackets hauling on drag-ropes. The men of the Condor were reinforced from the Fleet on these expeditions, so that the total force of bluejackets and Marines was 150. The cavalry being represented solely by the colonel and the major of Marines, and myself, who were mounted, we had no sufficient force wherewith to pursue the flying foe.

We used to play hide-and-seek with the soldiery and Bedouin among the sandhills. When they approached on one flank, we shelled them with the little gun until they retired; and then, hauling the gun-cart and rocket-cart over the roughest ground, we suddenly appeared and shelled them on the other flank, to their great amazement. All hands enjoyed these expeditions amazingly.

In the course of these reconnaissances, large quantities of stores and ammunition were found in the neighbouring villages. About three miles from the lines, an immense store of gun-cotton and Abel's detonators was discovered in a quarry among the low hills, stored in a shed. As no hostile force appeared during the next two days, I determined to destroy the gun-cotton. Captain A. K. Wilson of the Hecla sent 20 bluejackets and six Marines to assist me. These were embarked and landed within half a mile of the place. Outposts were set, with orders to signal should the enemy appear, and the rest of the party set to work.


Although gun-cotton does not, strictly speaking, explode except by detonation, it is extremely difficult to define where ignition ends and detonation begins; and there had been instances of its explosion, supposed to be due to the internal pressure of a large mass. A tremendous explosion of gun-cotton had occurred in 1866 at Stowmarket, where its manufacture was being carried on under the patent of Sir Frederick Abel, then chemist to the War Office. On another occasion, when Sir Frederick was conducting an experiment designed to prove that ignition was harmless, he had his clothes blown off his body, and narrowly escaped with his life. Recollecting these things, I thought it advisable to spread the stuff in a loose mass upon the hillside sloping to the quarry. The gun-cotton was packed in boxes. These were unpacked, and the contents were spread on the ground. Next to the pile, a bucket of loose powder was poured on the ground and over the fuse, to make sure of ignition. Into the powder was led one end of a Bickford's fuse, which was then threaded through the discs of gun-cotton. The fuse was timed to burn for five minutes.

The work was highly exhausting to the men, and more than once I felt inclined to call in the outposts to help; but I decided that it would not be right to take the risk of a surprise attack; for we were working in a trap, being closed in by the quarries on one side and by the low hills on the other. And sure enough, when the men had been working for five hours, up went the outpost's signal, and the corporal of Marines with his three men came running in to report that large numbers of the enemy were in sight.

Hastening out, I saw about 50 scouts running up, an action so unusual that it was evident they were strongly supported. Presently, about 200 skirmishers appeared, and behind them a large body of cavalry, probably about 700 in number. The outposts were at once recalled. The men were ordered out of the quarry, divided into two companies {205} of twelve men each, and retired by companies over the hill towards the shore, out of sight of the enemy. Mr. Attwood, the gunner of the Hecla, a bluejacket and myself, remained to fire the fuse. It was a five-minute fuse. The retreating men had been told to count as they ran, and at the end of four minutes, or when they saw us lie down, to halt and lie down. I gave the order in case there should be an explosion. When the men were lying down, I fired the fuse. Then the gunner, the bluejacket and I ran about 300 yards, and flung ourselves down.

Then there came a noise as though a giant had expelled a huge breath; the blast of the ignition burned our cheeks; in the midst of a vast column of yellow smoke, boxes and pieces of paper were whirling high in air, and a strong wind sucked back into the vacuum, almost dragging us along the sand. The enemy were so interested in the spectacle that they gave us time to get back to the boats.

It is probable that information had been given to the hostile forces by the inhabitants of the village past which we went to reach the quarry where was the gun-cotton; for, in retreating to the boats, when I looked back, instead of the 20 or 30 native women who were usually sitting about the place, I saw about 200 men eagerly watching us from the house-tops, evidently in the hope of enjoying the gratifying spectacle of our destruction.

From the summit of the slope falling to the sea, I signalled to the flagship, with a handkerchief tied to a pole, that I was surrounded: one of the many occasions upon which a knowledge of signalling proved invaluable. There was a haze upon the water, and I could not clearly discern the answering signal; but the signalman of the flagship had seen my figure silhouetted on the sky-line. Instantly after, Captain John Fisher of the Inflexible manned and armed boats, came ashore, and the enemy immediately retreated.

Shortly afterwards, as I was now a captain, I was relieved of the command of the Condor by Commander {206} Jeffreys, and went on half-pay. I should naturally have much preferred to remain in my little ship; but she was not a captain's command; and I left her (as I see I wrote at the time) with a tear in each eye. Commander Jeffreys discovered the place where she had been hit during the bombardment, one of her under-water plates having been started. Until then, it was thought that the only damage consisted of a hole through her awning and the smashing of a boat.

At the conclusion of this period of my service, I was most gratified to receive a gracious message of congratulation from Her Majesty the Queen.

H.H. the Khedive wrote to me, kindly expressing his sense of my services, and at the same time offering me an appointment upon his staff, in which capacity I was to go to the front. Lord Granville and the Admiralty having signified their permission that I should accept the post, I left Alexandria for Ismailia, together with several members of the Khedival staff.

We went by steamer, which towed a huge iron lighter carrying horses. A beam ran from stem to stern of the lighter, and to it the horses were tethered with halters. I remarked to the captain of the steamer that it would be advisable, in order to avoid injuring the lighter, to take every precaution to prevent the steamer from having to go astern. But in Ismailia Bay, which was crowded with shipping, a vessel crossed the steamer's bows, the steamer was forced to go astern, and she cut a hole in the lighter with her propeller. One of the ship's officers instantly descended the Jacob's ladder into the lighter with me, and we cut the halters of the horses, just in time to free them before the lighter sank, and there we were swimming about among the wild and frightened stallions. By splashing the water into their faces, we turned one or two shorewards, when the rest followed and came safely to land.

Upon discussing the matter of my appointment to the staff of the Khedive with Sir Garnet Wolseley, to my {207} surprise he declined to permit me to accept it. Discipline is discipline, and there was nothing for it but to acquiesce.

I was about packing up my things, when Mr. Cameron, the war correspondent of The Standard, informed me that he was authorised to appoint a correspondent to The New York Herald, and also that he had permission to send the said correspondent to the front, where I particularly desired to go. The notion attracted me. I applied to the military authorities for permission to accept the offer. Permission was, however, refused. So there was nothing to do but to go home. But before starting, I consoled myself by sending some provisions, privately, to the unfortunate officers at the front, who, owing to the substitution by the transport people of tents for food, were short of necessaries. I obtained from the Orient four large boxes filled with potted lobster, salmon, sardines, beef, tins of cocoa, and so forth, and sent one box each to the 1st Life Guards, the Blues, the Guards, and the Royal Marines. The orders were that no private supplies were to go up. These I ventured to disregard; got up bright and early at three o'clock in the morning; and had the boxes stowed under the hay which was being sent up in railway trucks, before officialdom was out of bed. Then I went home.

I consider that Sir Garnet Wolseley's conduct of the campaign, and his brilliant victory at Tel-el-Kebir, were military achievements of a high order. The public, perhaps, incline to estimate the merit of an action with reference to the loss of life incurred, rather than in relation to the skill employed in attaining the object in view. The attack at dawn at Tel-el-Kebir was a daring conception brilliantly carried into execution. Many persons, both at the time and subsequently, have explained how it ought to have been done. But Sir Garnet Wolseley did it.

The public seem to appreciate a big butcher's bill, although it may be caused by stupidity or by lack of foresight on the part of the general. But if he retrieves his mistakes, the public think more of him than of the general {208} who, by the exercise of foresight and knowledge, wins an action with little loss of life.

I carried home with me a 64 lb. shell fired from the Condor at the Mex magazine, intending to present it to the Prince of Wales. I found it in the sand. It had passed right through the walls of the magazine, and it had not exploded. Having brought it on board the Condor, I caused the gunner, Mr. Alexander Greening, to sound it with a copper rod: and he came to the conclusion that it was empty of gunpowder. I therefore thought that it had never been filled. I intended to have it cut in two and a lamp for the Prince made of the pieces, and took it to Nordenfelt's works for the purpose. The foreman, desirous of taking every precaution before cutting it, had it again filled with water and sounded with a copper rod, when it suddenly exploded, blowing off the foot of the workman who held it, and doing other serious damage. The explanation seems to be that the force of the impact when the shell was fired had solidified the powder into a hard mass. But explanation would have little availed had the shell burst in the smoking-room at Sandringham, where a fragment of it remains to this day.



At the beginning of the year 1883 I was on my way out to India with Lady Charles in the P. and O. s.s. Malwa. Proceeding into Ismailia Lake, the Malwa was rammed by another vessel which tried to cross the Malwa's bows. I was looking over the side of the Malwa and I saw a curious thing. I saw the colliding vessel rebound from the Malwa and strike her again. I ran up to the bridge, where the captain had already given orders to stop the engines. The ship was sinking; it was no time to stand upon ceremony; and I ventured to suggest to the captain that he should put his engines full steam ahead, when he might hope to beach the vessel, whereas if she stayed where she was, she would infallibly go down in deep water. The captain, like a good seaman, gave the order, and the chief engineer carried it into execution with admirable promptitude. I went down into the engine-room and found the water already rising through the foot-plates.

As the ship steamed towards the shore, settling down as she went, I stood with Lady Charles on the bridge, telling her that, if the vessel sank, I should throw her overboard—although she could not swim—and should jump in after her. To which she merely replied, "That will be very disagreeable!"

The ship was safely beached, though not before the water had risen to my cabin. She was afterwards salved by the help of the Navy. H.M.S. Carysfort, commanded by Captain H. F. Stephenson, C.B. (now Admiral Sir Henry F. Stephenson, {210} G.C.V.O., K.C.B., Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod), sent a carpenter and a working party; and they did excellent service in the Malwa.

Our party went to Cairo, there to await the next steamer.

Hicks Pasha and his staff dined with us upon the night before they left Cairo, upon their fatal expedition. Colonel W. Hicks had been appointed by the Khedive chief of the staff of the Army of the Soudan. In the following August he was appointed commander-in-chief. From Cairo he went to Souakim, thence to Berber, and thence to Khartoum. On the 28th April, he fought a successful action on the White Nile, south of Khartoum, in which his Egyptian troops did well. In September, Hicks left Duem with his staff and some 10,000 men and marched into the desert, which swallowed them up. The whole army was exterminated by the Mahdi's dervishes. Gordon said that the Mahdi built with the skulls of the slain a pyramid.

I applied for permission to accompany Hicks Pasha, but my old friend Lord Dufferin was determined that I should not go upon that hazardous enterprise. I believe he telegraphed to the Government on the subject. At any rate, he had his way, and so saved my life.

In October, before the news of the disaster had reached Cairo, the British Army of Occupation had been reduced from 6700 men to 3000. Subsequently, the British Government proceeded with the policy of abandoning the Soudan, in one phase of which I was to bear my part.

In the meantime, Lady Charles and I joined the Duke of Portland and his party, among whom were Lord de Grey and Lord Wenlock; went to India; enjoyed some excellent sport; and returned home.





A year before the British forces restored order in Egypt, trouble was beginning in the Soudan. One Mahomet Ahmed, who was the son of a boat-builder, and who had the peculiar conformation of the teeth which betokened the fore-ordained of the Prophet, announced that he was the Mahdi. In July, 1881, the holy man dwelt upon the island of Abba, on the White Nile, above Khartoum. Thence he caused it to be made known that he was the chosen instrument for the reformation of Islam, and that all those who denied him would be abolished. Reouf Pasha, who was then Governor-General of the Soudan, summoned the Mahdi to Khartoum, there to give an account of himself. The Mahdi naturally refused; and when Reouf sent soldiers to fetch him, the Mahdi slew most of them, and departed into the hills, he and all his following. The Governor of Fashoda took an expedition to Gheddeer, and was also slain, together with most of his men. Then Giegler Pasha, a German, acting as temporary Governor-General of the Soudan, succeeded in defeating the forces of the Mahdi. But Abdel Kader, who, succeeding Reouf, took over the command from Giegler, was defeated in his turn. On 7th June, 1882, the Egyptian forces were cut to pieces near Fashoda. In July, the Mahdi was besieging Obeid and {212} Bara. By October, 1882, both places were in danger of falling, and Abdel Kader was demanding reinforcements from Egypt.

The Soudan is a country as large as India; at that time it had no railways, no canals, no roads, and, excepting the Nile during a part of the year, no navigable rivers. In November, 1882, the British Government informed the Khedive that they declined to be responsible for the condition of the Soudan. Lord Granville's intimation to this effect was the first step in the policy which progressed from blunder to blunder to the desertion and death of General Gordon.

The Egyptian Government, left in the lurch, hastily enlisted some 10,000 men, the most part being brought in by force, and dispatched them to Abdel Kader at Berber. At Abdel Kader's request, Colonel Stewart and two other British officers were sent to Khartoum to help him to deal with the raw and mutinous levies.

In December, a number of British officers were appointed to the Egyptian Army in Egypt, in accordance with the recommendations of Lord Dufferin, and Sir Evelyn Wood was appointed Sirdar. The British Army of Occupation had now been reduced to 12,000 men, under the command of General Sir Archibald Alison, who, in the following April (1883) was succeeded by Lieutenant-General F. C. S. Stephenson.

In January, 1883, Colonel W. Hicks, afterwards Hicks Pasha, was appointed by the Khedive chief of the staff of the Army of the Soudan. Before he proceeded to the theatre of war, Abdel Kader had lost and won various engagements, and had reoccupied the province of Sennar; while the Mahdi had taken El Obeid and Bara and occupied the whole of Kordofan.

In February, it was announced in the Queen's Speech that "the British troops will be withdrawn as promptly as may be permitted by a prudent examination of the country"; a declaration provoking intense alarm among the European {213} inhabitants of Egypt. Their protests, however, were totally disregarded. The Egyptians naturally concluded that England owned no real interest in that reform of administration which her influence alone could achieve.

On 7th February, 1883, Colonel Hicks left Cairo for Khartoum, with his staff, consisting of Colonels Colborne and De Coetlogon, Majors Farquhar and Martin, and Captains Warner, Massey and Forrestier-Walker. Upon the night before their departure, Colonel Hicks and his staff dined with Lord and Lady Charles Beresford in Cairo. Lord Charles Beresford, who was then on half-pay, had expressed a wish to accompany Colonel Hicks, but Lord Dufferin disapproving of his suggestion, Lord Charles Beresford withdrew it.

Hicks and his men disappeared into the desert, which presently swallowed them up.

On the 28th April, Hicks defeated a large force of the Mahdi's army on the White Nile. The Egyptian Government then decided to reconquer the province of Kordofan, and dispatched reinforcements to Khartoum. On the 9th September, Hicks Pasha, at the head of 10,000 men, marched for Duem. The last dispatch received from him was dated 3rd October, 1883. Upon a day early in November, Hicks and his whole army were annihilated.

His defeat left Khartoum in great danger. On 9th November, before the news of the disaster reached England, the British Government stated that all British troops were to be withdrawn from Egypt. When the fact was known, the decision of the Government was modified; but they still declined to interfere in the Soudan; and advised the Egyptian Government to evacuate at least a part of that territory. The Egyptian Government protesting, the British Government, on 4th January, 1884, sent a peremptory message insisting that the policy of evacuation should be carried into execution. The inconsequence of Her Majesty's Ministers is sufficiently apparent.

In the meantime, during August of the preceding year, {214} 1883, trouble had arisen in the Eastern Soudan, where Osman Digna, a trader, joined the Mahdi, and brought all the tribes of that country to his standard. At the beginning of November, 1883, just at the time when Hicks Pasha and his army had come to their end, an Egyptian force under Mahmoud Talma Pasha was defeated by Osman Digna in the attempt to relieve Tokar, besieged by the rebels, Captain Moncrieff, Royal Navy, British Consul at Souakim, being killed in the action. A second expeditionary force under Suleiman Pasha was cut to pieces on 2nd December at Tamanieh.

The Egyptian Government then dispatched reinforcements under the command of General Valentine Baker, among whose staff were Colonel Sartorius, Lieutenant-Colonel Harrington, Lieutenant-Colonel Hay, Majors Harvey, Giles, and Holroyd, Morice Bey and Dr. Leslie. On the 4th February, 1884, Baker was defeated at El-Teb, with the loss of nearly two-thirds of his force. Morice Bey, Dr. Leslie, and nine other European officers were killed. Souakim being threatened, Admiral Hewett, on 10th December, was given the command of the town, having under him some 3800 troops. Two days later came the news of the taking of Sinkat by the rebels, and of the massacre of the garrison. During the period in which these successive disasters occurred, the British Army of Occupation was kept idle in Cairo by the orders of the British Government.

The current of events now divides, one leading to Khartoum, the other still flowing in the Eastern Soudan. The British Government, hopelessly at fault, turned to General Charles Gordon, as the one man in the world who could apparently perform miracles. Ten years previously, "Chinese" Gordon, as Governor-General of the Soudan, and again in 1877, as Governor-General of the Soudan, Darfur and the Equatorial Provinces, had freed the country from Turkish rule, broken the slave trade, established peace, opened trade routes, and laid the foundations of civilisation. Since 1877 he had been engaged in setting wrong things right in Egypt {215} in the Soudan again, in Abyssinia, in China, in the Mauritius, at the Cape, in Palestine, and in the Congo.

On 18th January, 1884, Gordon was instructed by the British Government to report upon the best method of evacuating the Soudan. When he arrived at Cairo, these instructions were radically altered by Sir Evelyn Baring (afterwards Lord Cromer), who, on the 25th January, informed Gordon that he was required actually to direct the evacuation of Khartoum and of the whole Soudan, and afterwards to establish an organised government in that country. Gordon arrived at Khartoum on the 18th February, where he was hailed as the father and saviour of the people.

On the same day, Major-General Sir Gerald Graham left Suez to join at Souakim the force which had been placed under his command. That force was chiefly drawn from the British Army of Occupation in Egypt. The object of the expedition was the relief of Tokar, or, if that place had already fallen, the protection of Souakim, an alternative which involved an attack upon Osman Digna's victorious army. Tokar was in fact taken by the enemy before the expedition started.

The British Government, whose original intention had been to refrain from any action in the Soudan whatsoever; which had been compelled by force of circumstances, including the most frightful bloodshed, to change a wholly negative policy to a definite scheme of evacuation; now perceived, of course too late, that if the European population was to be brought away, at least some measure of military force must be employed. What Her Majesty's Ministers were unable to see, or what, if they saw, they chose to ignore, was the plain fact that the same force and the same measures and the same promptitude would be required for the salvation of Europeans in face of the enemy, as for the reconquest and reoccupation of the country. In this delusion, or dereliction, resides the explanation of an affair which has left an indelible stain upon British honour.


On 28th February, 1884, Graham defeated the enemy, inflicting upon them severe losses, at El-Teb, near the spot upon which Baker's disastrous action had occurred some three weeks previously. On 13th March, after a hard and at times a dubious fight, Graham won another victory at Tamaai, and the power of Osman Digna was broken. Graham was then ordered to return, and the expedition was over.

By withdrawing Graham's troops, the Government both threw away the fruits of his success, and deliberately abandoned the control of the Souakim-Berber route from Khartoum, by which alone Gordon could have brought away the refugees. Berber was the key to the Soudan. Thenceforth, the Souakim-Berber route was impracticable; and it was for this reason that Lord Wolseley was obliged to take the much longer Nile route.

On the very day after Graham's victory at El-Teb, and before Graham had left Souakim, Gordon had telegraphed from Khartoum as follows:—

"There is not much chance of the situation improving, and every chance of it getting worse; for we have nothing to rely on to make it better. You must, therefore, decide whether you will or will not make an attempt to save the two-thirds of the population who are well affected before these two-thirds retreat. Should you wish to intervene, send 200 British troops to Wady Halfa, and adjutants to inspect Dongola, and then open up Souakim-Berber road by Indian Moslem troops. This will cause an immediate collapse of the revolt."

On 2nd March he telegraphed again to the same effect; but Lord Granville declined to accede to General Gordon's suggestions. A few days later, when the Eastern Soudan and the Souakim-Berber route had been definitely abandoned, Sir Evelyn Baring strongly advised the British Government to obtain command of the Souakim-Berber route. But the {217} advice was refused by Lord Granville, and the most urgent appeals continued to be addressed to him in vain.

Deserted by the Government, Gordon tried, and failed, to raise money privately for the purpose of engaging Turkish troops. Early in April, Khartoum was closely besieged. At this time, Lord Wolseley urged upon the Government the necessity of relieving Gordon. In May, preparations for war were begun. A part of the British Army of Occupation in Egypt was sent up the Nile; and Commander Hammill and other naval officers were employed to report upon the navigation of the river. These facts did not prevent Lord Hartington from informing the House of Commons, early in July, that the Government had no intention of sending an expedition to relieve General Gordon, unless it were made clear that by no other means could he be relieved, and adding that the Government had "received no information making it desirable that we should depart from that decision" (Royce, The Egyptian Campaigns). On 24th July, Lord Wolseley made a spirited protest against the procrastination of the Government. The pressure of public opinion could no longer be entirely withstood. On 30th July, Gordon sent a message in which he declared his retreat to be impossible.

On 5th August, Mr. Gladstone asked and obtained a vote of credit. Then, and not until then, were the preparations for war begun in England. Having decided, upon the advice of Lord Wolseley, to follow the Nile route instead of the Souakim-Berber route, the Government ordered 800 boats. These were 30 feet long, having six feet six inches beam, two feet six inches draught, fitted with 12 oars, two masts and lug sails; each designed to carry two boatmen and 10 soldiers with provisions, arms and ammunition. Eight steam pinnaces and two stern-wheel paddle-boats were also fitted out; the Nile steamers belonging to the Egyptian Government were taken over; and 380 voyageurs from Canada were engaged. The total force of troops selected numbered 7000. Messrs. Thomas Cook & Son contracted to transport the {218} whole expedition to above the Second Cataract. Lord Wolseley was appointed commander-in-chief; General Sir Redvers Buller was chief of staff; General Earle was given command of a brigade; special service officers were: Colonels Sir Charles Wilson, Brackenbury, Harrison, Henderson, Maurice, Lord Anson (Royce, The Egyptian Campaigns). Lord Charles Beresford was attached to Lord Wolseley's staff.

Even now, the Government failed to recognise the plain facts of the case. Their instructions to Lord Wolseley were that the main object of the expedition was to rescue General Gordon. Her Majesty's Ministers considered that it might be practicable to achieve his release without going to Khartoum, and that in any case it was desirable to avoid any fighting so far as possible.

When Lord Wolseley started from Cairo on 27th September, 1884, the advance was already going rapidly forward. Under the direction of Sir Evelyn Wood and Commander Hammill, a number of the whaler boats had been transported to Wady Halfa, which is nearly 900 miles from Khartoum, the total length of the Nile route being 1650 miles. Along the river, up to Wady Halfa and a little beyond to Sarras, bases of supply had been established; an advance guard was already at New Dongola, about 100 miles above Wady Halfa, under the command of General Sir Herbert Stewart, he who afterwards led the Desert Column.

Arriving at Wady Halfa on 5th October, Lord Wolseley received news that Colonel J. S. Stewart, Mr. Power, British Consul at Khartoum and correspondent of The Times, M. Herbin, French Consul, and a party of Greek and Egyptian refugees, who had left Khartoum in the steamer Abbas, had all been slain. Stewart had with him Gordon's papers, which, of course, were taken by the Mahdi's men.

On the 8th October a letter from M. Herbin was received at Cairo. It was dated from Khartoum, 29th July, 1884, and stated that there were then provisions for two months in the {219} place. The time had thus expired—and M. Herbin had been murdered—ere the letter arrived.

A temporary base was formed at Wady Halfa; and bases of supplies were established along the river up to New Dongola. By means of extraordinary exertions, boats and steamers were hauled up to Dongola through the rapids. Lord Wolseley formed a Camel Corps of 1500 men, consisting of four regiments, Heavy Cavalry, Light Cavalry, Guards, and Mounted Infantry, with a detachment of Royal Marines. Early in November, a general advance was made from Wady Halfa. Wolseley arrived at Dongola on 3rd November. Two days previously, on 1st November, Sir Evelyn Baring had received a message from Gordon, dated 13th July, saying that he could hold out for four months. The limit, therefore, had nearly been reached by the time the expedition was leaving Wady Halfa, 900 miles from Khartoum.

Lord Wolseley, early in November, considered that it would take to the end of the year to concentrate his forces at Ambukol, just above Old Dongola. He returned to Wady Halfa to expedite progress; and by the middle of December headquarters were established at Korti, and by Christmas the greater part of the force was concentrated there. During the whole of this period, Wolseley's army must be figured as a river of men flowing along the river Nile, the infantry struggling up in boats, the mounted men toiling along the banks; the stream of men banking up at headquarters, the military front, which is steadily pushed forward from Wady Halfa to New Dongola, from New Dongola to Old Dongola 60 to 70 miles farther up, from Old Dongola to Korti.

On 17th November a letter was received from Gordon saying that he could hold out for forty days from the date of the superscription, 4th November, 1884, thus leaving Wolseley barely four weeks to accomplish a task needing as many months. On 28th November another letter from Gordon, dated 9th September, gave the relief expedition four months, thus leaving Wolseley five weeks from the {220} date upon which the letter was received. It was now clear that the expedition could not reach Khartoum in time.

When Lord Wolseley, towards the end of December, had his forces concentrated at Korti, he decided to divide them into two columns, the Desert Column and the Nile Column. The reasons for his scheme can only be clearly apprehended by a reference to the map. At Korti, the Nile turns north-east, looping back again, and resuming its southward course at Metemmeh. A straight line drawn across the Bayuda Desert from Korti to Metemmeh is the short cut. This was the route given to the Desert Column. The Nile Column was to proceed up the loop of the river to Hamdab, there to avenge the murder of Colonel Stewart and his party, to proceed higher up to Berti, and thence to secure the bend of the river and to open up the desert route back to Korosko, below Wady Halfa, and from Korosko it was intended to attack Berber, and thence to join forces with the Desert Column at Metemmeh.

The Nile Column, numbering about 3000 men, under the command of Major-General Earle, Brigadier-General Brackenbury being second in command, left Korti on 28th December, 1884.

The Desert Column was placed under the command of General Sir Herbert Stewart. With him was Colonel Sir Charles Wilson, who was instructed to take a body of troops from Metemmeh to Khartoum. The Column consisted of sections of the Camel Corps, a company of the Royal Engineers, a detachment of the 19th Hussars, detachments of the Commissariat and Medical Corps, and the Naval Brigade, which was placed under the command of Lord Charles Beresford. The total force numbered 73 officers, 1032 non-commissioned officers and men, 2099 camels, and 40 horses. The Desert Column left Korti on 30th December, 1884. It was, in fact, a forlorn hope.

(The writer desires to acknowledge the use he has made of the excellent narrative of events contained in The Egyptian Campaigns, by the Hon. Charles Royle.)


THE SOUDAN WAR (Continued)


In January, 1884, General Gordon was entrusted by the British and Egyptian Governments with the impossible task of evacuating the Soudan and of organising its future internal administration, in the face of a vast horde of armed fanatics. In April, the investment of Khartoum, in which Gordon was shut up, was complete. In May, preparations for war were begun in England and in Egypt. It was not, however, until 8th August that Lord Hartington informed General Stephenson, commanding the British Army of Occupation in Egypt, that measures would be taken to relieve Gordon. During the same month the whale-boats for the Nile route were ordered. On 26th August General Stephenson was informed that Lord Wolseley would command the expedition.

In August, while I was staying with the Duke of Fife at Mar Lodge, I was appointed to Lord Wolseley's Staff.

I sailed with Lord Wolseley and the rest of his Staff. We arrived at Alexandria on 9th September, 1884, and went on to Cairo, where we lodged in the Palace on the Shoobra Road. Here were Lord Wolseley, General Sir Redvers Buller, Colonel Swaine, Major Wardrop and Lord Edward Fitzgerald, A.D.C. to Buller. Sir Evelyn Wood and Commander Hammill were already up the Nile {222} organising transport and supply. General Sir Herbert Stewart and General Earle were at Wady Halfa.

It is not my intention to relate the history of the war, which has been admirably recorded in the various works dealing with the subject; but rather to narrate my personal experiences during the campaign. And the reader will also be left to his own consideration of the contemporary affairs of the great world: the marrying and giving in marriage, losses and gains, desires foiled and ambitions achieved, the shifts and intrigues and gossip of domestic politics, the portentous manoeuvres upon the clouded stage of international drama: all of which, to the sailors and soldiers of the forlorn hope strung along the gigantic reaches of the Nile, toiling and fighting in the desert, went by as though it had never been. It is an old story now; very many of my gallant comrades have passed away; but the record of their courage and endurance remains, and shall remain.

When we arrived in Cairo there were already 29 naval officers and 190 men, divided into several sections, at work along the Nile. These were sent by Admiral Lord John Hay, commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean. In addition, the Admiralty had appointed two or three senior officers, among whom was Captain Boardman (afterwards Admiral F. R. Boardman, C.B.). At Lord Wolseley's request, Boardman was placed in command of the whole naval contingent, which had not hitherto been under either a naval officer in chief command or the military authority. My own position with regard to the naval contingent was simply that of Lord Wolseley's representative.

While we were in Cairo I purchased for £24 my famous racing camel Bimbashi. Buller also bought a camel, and we rode together daily. He used to laugh till he nearly fell out of his saddle, when my camel ran away with me through and over foot-passengers, donkeys, carriages and dogs. I might haul Bimbashi's head round till it was under my knee, and he was looking astern, and still he charged onwards.


The whale-boats designed to transport the expedition were then arriving in large numbers. The total number was 800. They were similar to the man-of-war 30-foot whaler, but fuller in the body to enable them to carry more weight. Each boat was 30 feet long, with six feet six inches beam, and two feet six inches draught, fitted for 12 oars, and two masts with lug sails, and capable of carrying 10 soldiers, two boatmen (Canadian voyageurs), 1000 rations and ammunition.

There was a story current when the boats were struggling up the Nile, that one of them, manned by a sergeant and eight soldiers, but without a voyageur on board, having run athwart a rock and upset, a soldier observed to the sergeant that "the cove who sent nine men in a boat with 1000 rations must have been this here journey before!"

There were also to be provided eight steam pinnaces, two stern-wheel paddle boats, and a number of hired Egyptian Government steamers. The whale-boats as they arrived were sent, first, by rail and river to Assiout. Thence they were towed to Assouan, where is the First Cataract. Here they were either railed on trucks, or hauled through the rapids to Shellal, eight miles up. From Shellal to Wady Halfa, 200 miles farther, was plain sailing. At Wady Halfa is the Second Cataract and the formidable rapid of Bab-el-Kebir, or the "Great Gate."

Early in September I was ordered by Lord Wolseley to go up the Nile, overhauling the arrangements for the water transport, right up to Wady Halfa, which would be the temporary military base, I went by train from Cairo to Assiout, the hottest journey I had ever endured. India was nothing to it. The desert gathered itself up to destroy me. Any little spot upon my person which was not deep in desert was a fly-bazaar. But at Assiout a cold shower-bath paid for all. Here I investigated the transport arrangements made by Captain Boardman, and found them excellent. I may say at once that the whole of Captain Boardman's work was admirable, and that his management {224} throughout the campaign was marked by the greatest good feeling, tact, and patience.

I left Assiout in one of Messrs. Cook's steamers, the Fersaat, which had the appearance of a boat and the manners of a kangaroo. She was loosely concocted of iron and leaked at every rivet; she squealed and grunted; her boiler roared like a camel; she bounded as she went. Her Reis (captain and pilot) was a sorrowful old Mohammedan, whose only method of finding out if the shoals and sands were still in the same place was by running upon them; and his manner of getting off them was to cry "Allah Kerim!" ("God is great!") and to beat his poor old forehead on the deck. In the meantime one of his Arabs, tastefully attired in a long blue night-gown, an enormous pair of drawers, and decorated elastic-sided boots, stripped and jumped overboard and pushed the boat, and while he pushed he chanted a dirge. As the boat began to move, he made sounds which suggested that he was about to be violently sick but could not quite manage it satisfactorily, although encouraged thereto by the loud objurgations of the two stokers. When he clambered back on deck, he put on the decorated boots and walked about in them till he was dry enough to dress; while the Reis gave thanks to his Maker, and the two stokers, men who knew nothing and feared nothing, piled wood on the furnaces and drove the boat along again.

If anyone walked from port to starboard or touched the helm, the boat rolled over, and until the next roll maintained a list of ten degrees, so that I was frequently shot off the locker upon which I was trying to sleep, landing upon the top of José, my Maltese interpreter, and followed by field-glasses, filter, sword and boots. The mosquito-curtains carried away, and the mosquitoes instantly attacked in force, driving me nearly mad with loss of blood, irritation, and rage. My only comfort was a pneumatic life-belt, which had been sent to me by Lady Charles, and which I used as a pillow.


So we struggled along against the stream for the 330 miles to Assouan; and the weather was not too hot, and the nights were cool, and the banks were fringed with date-palms, and every night the sun sank from the intense blue of the zenith, laced with long-drawn clouds of rose, to the lucent green low in the west, and the sand turned to gold colour and rose, until the sun dropped suddenly out of sight and all turned grey like ashes. Then a cold little wind sprang up out of the desert and the night deepened into the velvet dark flashing with a myriad stars.

On 23rd September I came to Assouan: reorganised the postal service to bring two mails a week by steam-launch: made arrangements for the rapid working of the water transport generally, ready for the time of pressure, and sent an urgent request for flexible wire hawsers, as I was sure they would be urgently required.

Leaving Assouan on 24th September, I arrived at Wady Halfa on the 27th. Here were Sir Evelyn Wood and his Staff; among whom was my old friend Zohrab Pasha. I was immediately set to work trying camels, as I had become acquainted with these singular animals in India.

Upon the day of my arrival I went out with a young officer in the Mounted Infantry. His camel blundered over an irrigation ditch, and flung my young friend head over heels into the mud, where he sat looking sadly up into the face of his steed, which was complaining, as camels do, making a peculiar mumbling noise like an old woman kept waiting for her tea. Having been restored to his seat, this unfortunate youth immediately rode too close to the river and incontinently fell into a deep mud hole from which he had to be dug out.

On 5th October Lord Wolseley arrived at Wady Halfa, as cheery as usual, and took up his quarters in a dahabieh. Sir Redvers Buller and Zohrab Pasha were also dwelling in dahabiehs. I was attached to Sir Evelyn Wood's mess, Sir Evelyn being in charge of communications. I lived in a small bell tent close to the river, chiefly furnished with a {226} penny whistle, a photograph of Lady Charles, my letters from home, and a stag beetle big enough to carry me to hounds, which I generally had to chase from my bed.

Upon Lord Wolseley's arrival we heard the rumour of the murder of Colonel Stewart at El-Kamar, and of the slaying of his companions. Ultimately, the news was confirmed. Stewart, with three steamers, had left Khartoum on 10th September. After shelling the forts at Berber, two of the steamers returned; while Stewart, in the Abbas, which was towing two boats carrying refugees, went on to Abu Hamid, where the natives opened a heavy fire. The boats were cast adrift and their passengers captured. Stewart went on; his steamer was wrecked near the village of Hebbeh, at which, having been induced to land by treachery, Stewart, M. Herbin, French Consul at Khartoum, Mr. Power, Times correspondent, and a number of Greeks and Egyptians, were slain. It was a pitiful end to all Colonel Stewart's gallant service with Gordon.

During the first part of my time at Wady Halfa I was engaged under Lord Wolseley's instructions in the inspection of the transport up and down the river, often riding more than forty miles in a day upon a camel. Wady Halfa was then being formed into the base camp preparatory to the general advance: and troops and stores were arriving daily. The railway ran along the east bank of the river to Sarras, 33 miles distant.

One day, when Sir Evelyn Wood and a party of soldiers were going by train to Sarras, and Commander Hammill and I were accompanying them, the engine broke down half-way. The Egyptian engineer and stoker being helpless, Hammill and I examined the locomotive, Hammill taking the top part, while I lay on my back underneath, close to the furnace, where the sensation was like being baked in an oven. The bearings were overheated, a lubricating tube having become unscrewed. After two hours' hard work, we managed to reverse the tube end for end and to refix it. Sir Evelyn Wood helped to pull me from under the engine, {227} and laughed till he cried. I was covered with black grease from top to toe, and my clothes were scorched to tatters. Hammill was in no better case, his suit being drenched with oil. The spectacle may have been very amusing to the general; but neither Hammill nor I had more than two suits, and here was one of them destroyed entirely.

By the 5th October, when Lord Wolseley arrived at Wady Halfa, Sir Herbert Stewart had been for several days at Dongola with 250 Mounted Infantry, who were transported in nuggars (native boats) from Sarras. The whale-boats were arriving daily at Wady Halfa, the first boat having been hauled through the rapids on 25th September, and by the 5th October there were 103 whalers assembled at Wady Halfa. At Wady Halfa is the Second Cataract, at the lower end of which is the gorge of Bab-el-Kebir, the Great Gate. Between Wady Halfa and Dal are the cataracts of Samneh, Attireh, Ambigol, Tangour and Akasha. At intervals of about 33 miles from Sarras to (New) Dongola, stations were established with commissariat depots. The transport of troops and stores from the base camp at Wady Halfa to Dongola consisted of the steamers, whale-boats, and nuggars along the river, the train from Wady Halfa to Sarras, from Sarras to Ambigol by camel, thence by water. The Camel Corps marched along the east bank to Dongola. It was composed of four regiments, Heavy, Light, Guards, and Mounted Infantry, each being composed of detachments from cavalry and infantry regiments, each detachment consisting of two officers, two sergeants, two corporals, one bugler, and 38 men; total, 94 officers, 1700 N.C.O.'s and men.

Such, in brief, was the condition of affairs early in October (1884), when I was stationed at the Second Cataract at Wady Halfa. Here the Nile divides into two, flowing on either side of a group of rocks and islands for about 20 miles, and at the other (or upper) end of the group of rocks and islands, on the east (or left) bank, is the sickle-shaped gorge of Bab-el-Kebir. At this time, although the {228} river was falling, the roar of the torrent pouring through the Bab was so tremendous, that no voice could be heard, and we communicated with one another by semaphore. When I left the Bab, goats were feeding in the bed of the river.

Lord Wolseley told me that he was informed that it was impossible to haul the steamers up the Second Cataract, and asked me if I could do it.

I replied that nothing was impossible until it was proved to be impossible; and that, in the case under consideration, I would admit the impossibility when I had smashed two steamers in trying to get them through; while if I smashed only one, I might thereby get experience which would enable me to succeed with the other.

The steamers were hauled through successfully while the Bab-el-Kebir was still full and roaring, the current being so powerful that the steamers forging against it trembled like a whip.

Some 4000 natives were put on the hawser of the first steamer; and as they hauled her up, she had but a foot's clearance between her sides and the rocks. The torrent flung her against them, and if she had not been defended by timber and mats, she would have been smashed to pieces. About the middle of the gorge the natives could move her no farther. Whereupon they cried to Allah to strengthen them, and to order the rope to pull harder and to slacken the water. But as their prayers availed not, I eased the steamer back again, and put about 1500 British soldiers on the hawser. They did not pray; indeed, their language was as it were the reverse of prayer; but they dragged the steamer right through. Theologically speaking, the victory should have gone to the natives. I put the problem to a bishop, but he was unable to solve it.

The task of hauling the whalers through the Second Cataract was at first entrusted to Koko, the native pilot Of Bab-el-Kebir. His method was to take a line, dive with it into the rapids, and carry it across the river. The line was {229} frequently torn from him by the current, and many of the boats were stove in against the rocks.

I designed a scheme of haulage, and was eventually placed by Lord Wolseley in charge of the whole of the water transport from Wady Halfa to Gemai, a stretch of about 17 miles. At Gemai was established a dockyard, where damaged boats were repaired and equipped for the rest of the voyage.

My scheme for hauling the boats consisted of a stout standing guess warp rigged as nearly as possible at right angles to the course of the boat to be hauled, and secured at either end to rock or tree; one end of a short hawser was hooked to the guess warp, so that it could move freely up and down it, and a block was secured to the other end. Through the block was rove a towing rope proper, one end secured to the boat, and the working party on land tailing on to the other. As the course of the river shifted, the guess warp was moved; the whole passage being accomplished by a series of these operations. In certain places two blocks were used, a standing block and a pendant block, a pendant being rove through the standing block, one end secured to the pendant block, men hauling on the other end; and through the pendant block was rove the hauling line, one end secured to the boat, men hauling on the other upon the bank opposite to that on which were the pendant crew. By hauling on the hauling line, then easing the pendant, and then hauling again on the hauling line, the boat was brought clear of the Cataract and hauled round the corner into smooth water.

Each boat was supplied with two poles for punting and a long line for tracking, besides oars and sails.

The whole equipment of the boats was organised by Sir Redvers Buller, who utilised his experience of the Red River expedition, and nothing could have better served its purpose.

The nuggars, or native boats, were bought near Assouan, and were then brought up to Wady Halfa, whence they were hauled through the Cataract, then loaded with stores and {230} sent on up river. It was of the utmost importance that they should be dispatched as quickly as possible; for an army moves on its stomach, and the nuggars carried the wherewithal. Their sails, being invariably rotten, were blown to pieces in the Cataracts. They were constantly crashing into the rocks, which made holes in them, when they were hauled by main force to the shore, where a dock was excavated in the sand to receive them. Here they were repaired and thence dispatched up river.

A nuggar would come sailing along, when there was a sudden crash, the bluejacket at the helm was pitched headlong into the bottom of the boat, while the sail split into ribbons, and the native crew embraced the mast crying that Allah was great!


When the whale-boats came along, their passage was so arranged that a regiment, or part of a regiment, was kept together; the distribution being maintained all up the river, so that a homogeneous body could be landed at any moment for attack or defence if necessary.

So furious was the torrent, that whoso fell into it seldom rose again, unless he were one of the expert Dongola divers. The men coming up in the boats, who had done and suffered much before reaching Wady Halfa, had repaired their trousers with biscuit tins. I overheard the following dialogue between one of these tin-bottomed weary heroes and a comrade on the bank:

"Hullo, Bill, 'ow are you getting on?"

"Me? I've been pulling on this here ruddy river for about two years. 'Ow far is it to Gemai?"

"About fifteen miles, mate."

"O my Gawd! Is there an 'orspital there?"

Late in October, the voyageurs arrived, a fine body of men, 380 strong.

Being acquainted with rapids and understanding their navigation, the voyageurs were invaluable in bringing the boats through the long and difficult reaches of the Nile up to Wady Halfa, and from Wady Halfa up to Korti. The {231} task could never have been accomplished in the time, and the losses of boats would have been heavier, had it not been for the voyageurs.

As the boats came through the Bab or across the portage, the voyageurs took charge of them and sailed them up to Gemai. Here they were overhauled and fully equipped, the soldiers were embarked, and away they went up river.

By the 6th November, 60 boats had left Gemai with the Sussex regiment on board. The river was then falling so swiftly that a new course for the boats must be found almost every day. Hitherto the boats had been passed through the Cataract almost without a scratch or the loss of a single article of gear. Now the rocks began to show through the surf in the Bab.

A boat was smashed. We caught her lower down; and with 200 men portaged her over a rocky hill, across the neck of land formed by the curve of the Bab, then laid her keel upwards across two other boats, and so floated, took her up to Gemai dockyard. I was the more pleased with this piece of salvage, because everyone said it was impossible to save the boat. The last nine boats, after being emptied of all gear, were hauled clean over the rocks by main force. They came prettily lipping through the boiling torrent from rock to rock, taking the blows upon keel and bilge pieces, so that they were scarcely damaged.

Early in October, foreseeing that, as the water fell, the Bab-el-Kebir would become impracticable, I had designed a scheme for a portage. The alternative would have been to entrain the boats from Wady Halfa to Sarras, an expedient which, as the whole of the train service was required to carry provisions, would have involved immense delay.

My plan was to haul the boats up to the entrance of the Bab and then to carry them across the neck of land formed by the curve of the Bab, a distance of 2488 yards, which required 400 men, who should be divided into sections of 40 to each boat. The boat was hauled on shore, her masts, oars, and poles laid on the ground to serve as bearers; the boat was {232} laid on these keel uppermost, and was then lifted and carried, the masts, oars, and poles resting on the men's shoulders, and other men supporting the boat by resting thwarts and gunwale on their shoulders. My scheme was at first received with incredulity by all except Lord Wolseley. But I made a trial trip with 30 men, and had the boat across the portage, including six stoppages for rest, and in the water with all her gear without a scratch, in an hour and twenty minutes. The passage of Bab-el-Kebir, low as the water had become, would have taken at least six hours, with great risk of disaster.

Now, having hauled the last nine boats through, over the rocks, the portage scheme came into operation; and on the 6th November I closed the Bab, and used the portage, by means of which alone it was made possible to continue the supply of boats at the same rate. Thenceforward we were able to put the boats through quicker than they were supplied.

Many of the boats were poisonous to handle, as their matting was infested with scorpions.

My dwelling was at first a tent at Wady Halfa, and afterwards a hut on the bank beside the Bab-el-Kebir. It stood within six feet of the roaring river, in a grove of mimosa. The camels lunched daily upon the long sharp thorns of the mimosa, apparently relishing these spines as a form of Worcester sauce.

Rising at daylight, every day I covered some thirty miles up and down the shore of the Cataract, superintending operations from dawn till dark. I rode one of my camels, Bimbashi or Ballyhooly or Beelzebub, or my donkey, County Waterford, so named because the second time I contested him I lost my seat: a political allegory. Being short of both officers and men, my presence was required everywhere at once. By haulage and portage a perpetual procession of whaleboats and nuggars was kept moving up to the dockyard at Gemai.

From Wady Halfa to the Bab the Cataract was divided {233} into reaches, a post being stationed at each. At the first reach were Peel of the 2nd Life Guards and 200 Dongola men; at the Naval Camp, on the second reach, were Lieutenant Colbourne and 350 Dongola men; at Palm Tree Camp, in the third reach, were an Egyptian officer and 100 Dongola men; for the portage at Bab-el-Kebir I had 500 men of the 2nd Egyptian battalion under their colonel, and another of their officers, Shakespeare of the Marines, who had been with me in the Thunderer. All along the Cataract were stationed small parties of carpenters and sailmakers in order that damages should be repaired on the spot. Living with me was Colonel Grant, who was in command of all the Dongola men. Later, the Canadian voyageurs camped beside my hut.

By means of the distribution of work, each section being placed under a responsible officer, progress speedily became three times as fast. Officers and men worked magnificently. I was proud of the old Navy.

The routine for the bluejackets was: Turn out 4.30 a.m., breakfast; walk seven to ten miles through the desert along the river, often having to retrace their steps to help a boat in distress; work all day till sunset, no spell for dinner, which consisted of biscuit; at sunset, walk seven miles back to camp, supper and turn in. The officers walked with the men, giving their camels to the men who suffered from sore feet. Officers and men were burned as black as the natives.

Until my arrival, the nine naval officers and the doctor had been living at the Naval Camp nine miles from Wady Halfa, without a single servant or a cook. They were allowed neither servants nor the money with which to hire natives. But nothing could exceed the kindness and good-will of General Buller, who at once granted all my requests, and if I found it necessary to order first and report afterwards, sanctioned my requisitions.

I had with me in my hut for a time F. H. Pollen, who could dive and swim better than the Dongola men, using like them a blown-up goatskin. The constant immersion {234} brought on an attack of dysentery. I kept him in bed, taking away his clothes so that he could not get up, and doctored him till he recovered.

At this time I acted as doctor to the men under me. Every case of sickness was reported to me at once. If the patient suffered from diarrhoea I exhibited castor oil. A petty officer having been thus treated, said he felt easier. I asked him if he would like another dose, and he said he would like it. The same night he died. I sent his body on a camel to the nearest medical officer, who found seventeen date-stones in his stomach. I had the sorry consolation of knowing that the poor fellow must have died in any event.

On the 17th November, Lord Wolseley, returning from Dongola, arrived suddenly at Wady Halfa, where he remained for twenty-four hours, afterwards returning to Dongola. All we knew was that he had come to press matters forward. History relates how that on the 17th November, Wolseley received a letter from Gordon dated 4th November, in which Gordon wrote: "We can hold out forty days with ease; after that it will be difficult." In reply Wolseley telegraphed from Wady Halfa: "Yours of 4th just received 17th; the first I have had from you. I shall be at Kasr Dongola in four days." Wolseley at the same time informed Lord Hartington that while the news would not affect his plans, it seemed to show that Gordon's relief could not be accomplished without fighting.

Lord Wolseley made no announcement on the subject at the time, merely telling General Buller and myself that we were to stay where we were for the present. Our impression was that Wolseley had abandoned the idea of making a dash across the desert from Korti to Metemmeh.

At that date, 17th November, we had more than 200 boats ready to embark troops at Gernai, from which twenty to thirty boats were being dispatched daily. Nearly 200 boats had already gone, carrying detachments of the Essex, Stafford, and Cornwall Regiments, the Engineers, and Commissariat. About 200 more boats had still to pass the {235} Cataract. I was very pleased with the work and behaviour of the 2nd battalion of the Egyptian Army, which was working the portage. I expressed my satisfaction to them, and gave every man a quarter of a pound of native tobacco, whereupon they declared with one voice that, "if God was willing, they would go to hell with my Excellency."

At about this time I received a private intimation from Lord Wolseley that, when the general advance began, he intended to place me in command of a naval brigade.

By 22nd November, 549 boats had been passed through the Second Cataract, 166 of which had been hauled through the Bab-el-Kebir, the rest portaged. Of the whole number of boats, only three were smashed; and very few received any damage. Accidents were few, although the work was dangerous. On 21st November a voyageur was drowned. Three voyageurs went overboard, and two were saved by catching hold of a rope. The third scorned the rope, relying upon his ability to swim, and was never seen again. Up to that date five men altogether had been drowned, two soldiers, two Canadians, and one native. Later, another native, and he an Esneh swimmer, was drowned. The river was extraordinarily fatal. Not one man who went under upon falling overboard was saved. The natives always used to do their best to keep on the surface.

Lord Wolseley was so good as warmly to commend the work done on the Second Cataract; and Sir Redvers Buller, who at first declared the portage scheme to be impossible of execution, generously expressed his appreciation of its success.

Having shot a little alligator, I skinned it myself. The Arab camel-man in my service, who spoke French, argued with me in that language for a long time that an alligator had no tongue, but fed by suction, like a snipe. As I had cut out the tongue of my little alligator, I knew it had one; but my Arabian naturalist refused to be persuaded.

At this time and afterwards while I was in Egypt, my servant, interpreter and cook was the excellent José Salvatro, {236} a Maltese. If he happened to be absent, I conveyed my instructions to the natives through my French-speaking camel-man, in French. Between my French and his French and his Arabic, I used to wonder how the meaning filtered through; but I have a note in my diary that "it comes all right, the natives are cheery fellows and work capitally with me, and a good smack upon the 'sit-upon' of a lazy one keeps the whole lot going."

Towards the end of November I was living alone in my hut on the Bab-el-Kebir, attended only by a bluejacket and the faithful José, who ceased not from scrubbing and washing, so that I was never a day without clean things, an inestimable comfort in that climate. Here I was haunted by an Arab maniac who dwelt in some indiscoverable antre of the rocks. At night I heard him howling to himself. In the daytime, he ran here and there, his only garment being the dust he cast upon his shaven head, crying upon Allah. He ate sand and offal, a diet which left him hungry, for he would come to my tent for food, which I gave him. He seemed to know me in a vague way. I gave him some calico to cover his nakedness withal, but he tore the stuff into fragments and ate them. One day he rushed into my tent, clawed some mutton-broth out of the cooking-pot with his horrible hands and crammed it boiling hot into his mouth. I was obliged forcibly to eject him lest he should take the whole; but I had no stomach for the rest. My fear was lest he should burst in at night and I should be obliged in self-defence to shoot him. Eventually, José lost patience, seized a huge wood-axe, and chased the maniac for a mile. The poor wretch ran like a hare and vanished into his hole in the rocks.

I made a match with Colonel Brocklehurst, head of the Remount Department, to ride my camel, the bold Bimbashi, against any one of Brocklehurst's camels, for £25. The course was six miles long across the desert, from Peel's Camp at the beginning of the Cataract to Sir Evelyn Wood's flagstaff at Wady Halfa. Brocklehurst's rider was his interpreter, {237} a lean rat of an Arab Sheikh, who was absolutely certain he would win. His camel was the favourite of Wood's mess and was reputed to be the best in Egypt. The betting was fifty to one against me. But I had been riding Bimbashi 30 miles or so a day, and we were both in fine hard condition.

The Sheikh started at a gallop. First his turban, then his goatskin saddle-rug, carried away. Both rider and camel were blowing and perspiring ere they had run three miles. For the first two and a half miles I waited on the Sheikh, then came away and won in a canter half a mile ahead. At the finish the troops lined up and made a course for us. Thus I won my first camel race, owner up. No one was better pleased than my old friend Colonel Brocklehurst.

Bimbashi (according to my journal) covered the six miles in a little over eighteen minutes. That gallant steed had already been ridden the nine miles from my camp to the starting-point; and when I rode him back in the evening, he was so fresh that he ran away with me, grumbling loudly, because he was offended at the sight of a dead donkey lying wrong side up beside the railway.

I invented a saddle for camels, and I believe the pattern is still in use. The saddle-tree is a triangular wooden framework, like the gable of a roof. I covered the wood with oakum and canvas; abolished all buckles, made the girths and stirrups of raw hide thongs, and put the stirrups forward, instead of behind. Count Gleichen, in his interesting book, With the Camel Corps up the Nile, relates how the saddles and equipment served out to the Camel Corps gave the men infinite trouble and discomfort. The unseasoned wood came to pieces, the straps broke, the water-skins and water-bottles leaked; but one instance of the departmental mismanagement which caused our men so much unnecessary suffering.

By the end of November, the river was falling so swiftly that what was smooth water yesterday was to-day a {238} frivolous series of waterfalls with a twist in them. Every alteration in the river involved a new device for haulage, and it would alter at three or four places in a mile, and there were 11 miles of rapids. I was generally able to judge by the look of the water when and where it would change its course during the next few hours. In order to avoid the least delay, new arrangements must be devised beforehand; and my mind was so absorbed in these schemes, that I dreamed of them nightly. By that time I had 1400 men working under me, whose work must be organised, and stations allocated. The Bab-el-Kebir, that formidable rapid, was now a grazing ground for goats.

I shifted my quarters from the Bab to Wady Halfa, as the difficulties were now all at that end of the Cataract. Peel and Colbourne, in command respectively of the next two reaches, found no day too long and no work too hard.

In order to supervise the whole length of the operations as quickly as possible, I kept one camel, Ballyhooly, at the Bab; the big white donkey County Waterford half-way there; and Bimbashi the bold and Beelzebub at Wady Halfa. Bimbashi could trot 16 miles in the hour. A Bedouin Sheikh offered me £3$ for him. As I had bought him for £24 I concluded that his vender had stolen him. I won more than his price in the race with Colonel Brocklehurst's Sheikh. While at Wady Halfa I rode him six miles out in the heavy sand against Sir Evelyn Wood and his A.D.C., who rode horses, and Bimbashi beat the horses fair and square.

Lord Wolseley sent me a telegram ordering me to form a naval brigade of 100 men and 10 officers. But as the bluejackets were of inestimable service in getting the remainder of the boats through the Cataract, and fitting them out at Gemai, where the soldiers embarked, he desired to keep them where they were as long as possible. On 27th November, we hoped to get all the boats through during the next five days. Up to that date—the last for which I have a note—687 boats had been passed through the Cataract, with {239} a loss of 4 only; about 27 men of all sorts had been drowned; and 337 boats had left Gemai with troops and stores.

On 6th December the last boat was passed through. On the same day, Sir Evelyn Wood and Sir Redvers Buller received a telegram reporting a block of boats at Ambigol and Dal Cataract; and I was ordered there at a moment's notice.

On 27th September I had arrived at Wady Halfa; on 10th October I schemed the portage; and for eight weeks since that date I had been continuously hard at work passing the boats through the Second Cataract; which the Arabs call "the belly of stone."


THE SOUDAN WAR (Continued)


"To Assiout, in a cloud of dust
    We came, and it made us smile,
To see each other's features, till
    We washed them in the Nile.
From there, by boat, to Assouan
    We came, and every night
Made fast, for the boatmen wouldn't steam
    Excepting in daylight."
Songs of the Camel Corps (Sergt. H. EAGLE, R.M.C.C.)

On the 6th December, 1884, Peel and Colbourne, my two gallant comrades who had done so splendid a work upon the Second Cataract, quitted the Belly of Stone, embarking in two boats manned by Kroomen. The names of these big black men were Africa, Ginger Red, Bottled Beer, Sampson, Two Glasses and Been-Very-Ill-Twice; and when they were excited, as they nearly always were, they took to the English tongue, and kept us laughing for a week. When the wind was fair and we sailed up against the rapids, the Kroo boys were terribly anxious, knowing that if the wind failed we should slide all the way back again.

By this time the whole expedition was moving up river. The conduct of the soldiers was magnificent, achieving wonderful results. Of the sailors, accustomed to the work, and knowing the shortest way of doing things, one expected much—and got even more. It was hard enough for the {241} seamen. Although they, the soldiers, knew nothing of boats, they worked like heroes. And the navigation of the Nile from Gemai to Dal enforced hard continuous toil from dawn to dark day after day. The voyageurs did splendid service; the expedition could not have advanced so rapidly without them; and although they knew nothing of sails, being acute adventurous fellows they soon picked up enough knowledge to carry them through.

An officer of cavalry in charge of a convoy of stores on the river worked by Dongola men, describing his adventures with what he called his "peasant crews," pathetically observed: "You know, I know nothing whatever about a boat, or what it ought to do, and I am not ashamed to tell you that the whole time I am sweating with terror. And every night when I go to bed I dream of whirlpools and boiling rapids and then I dream that I am drowned."

But his visions of the night affected neither his nerve nor his indomitable energy.

Our daily routine along the river began at 4.30: all hands turn out, make up tent (if there were one), breakfast, and start, sailing or tracking or rowing according to the state of the river. But whether you sailed or tracked or rowed, before long the river changed and you must row instead of track, or sail instead of row. Then you would come to a difficult place, and you would heave the cargo on shore, and get the empty boat up a fall or a heavy rush of water, and portage the cargo on to the boat. So on to midday, when an hour was allowed for dinner; then at it again, sailing, tracking, rowing, in and out cargo, till sundown. Then haul into the bank and eat bully beef without vegetables. After supper, roll in a blanket and sleep on the soft sand the profound and delicious slumber of weary men.

Occasionally a boat would strike a rock; or at rare intervals an accident would happen, and part of a crew would be lost, and the boat's gear swept away; or a hole would be knocked in the boat, when she would be emptied of gear and cargo, hauled up, and patched. Under these circumstances, {242} the boats often made no more than three or four miles' advance in a day. Overloaded as were many of the boats, they served their purpose admirably well.

At the big Cataracts were stationed working parties, which emptied the boats of gear and cargo, portaged them overland, and hauled the boats through the rapids.

So we struggled up the broad and rushing river from Gemai to Dal, sailing and towing and rowing, capsized and righting again. And one night a sandstorm waltzed out of the desert and blew away our tent and with it knives, forks, slippers, lamp, candles, matches and everything. And the next morning Peel dropped his knife, and in trying to save it he upset our whole breakfast of sardines and coffee into Colbourne's boots. And half my kit was stolen, and I was reduced to one broken pair of boots, and the natives stole my tooth powder and baked bread with it. And we had boils all over us like the man in the Bible, because every little scratch was poisoned by the innumerable flies of Egypt. But we were so busy that nothing mattered.

Fighting every mile of the great river pouring down from Khartoum, we on the Cataracts had no news of Gordon. All we knew was that there was need to hurry, hurry all the way. At such times as the mail from home arrived upon a dyspeptic camel, we got scraps of news of home affairs. People who knew much more than Lord Wolseley, were saying he ought to have taken the Souakim-Berber route instead of the Nile route. I said then, as I say now, he had no choice. At this time of crisis, when the Navy was dangerously inadequate, one political party was screaming denunciations against "legislation by panic." Encouraging to sailors and soldiers sweating on service! But we knew what to expect. I observe that in a private letter written in December, 1884, from the banks of the Nile, at the end of a long day's work with the boats, I said, "Both sides are equally to blame for the defective state of the Navy. Tell —— and —— not to be unpatriotic and make the Navy a party question, or they will not do half the good they might."


We came to Ambigol to find the boats had been cleared by Alleyne of the Artillery. I was able to improve the organisation there, and to give help along the river I was in time to save three boats. At Dal, I laid lines along the centre of the two and a half miles rapid, so that in calm weather the boats could haul themselves through.

In the meantime, the Naval Brigade of which Lord Wolseley had ordered me to take command, had been selected, at my request, by Captain Boardman.

On 19th December, my first division came to Dal. Up they came, all together in line ahead, under all possible sail, using the boat awnings as spinnakers. They had sailed up the rapids where the other boats were tracking; and the soldiers cheered them as they went by. There was not a scratch on any boat, nor a drop of water in any of them. Every cargo was complete in detail, including machine guns, ammunition, oil and stores. Had I not a right to be proud of the seamen? I put an officer at the helm of each boat, and told them to follow me through Dal Cataract; and led them through, so that the same night the boats were reloaded with the gear and cargo which had been portaged, and were going on. The passage of Dal Cataract usually occupied three days.

I sent on the first division, and stayed at Dal to await the arrival of the second, in order to get all my men together. As it happened, I did not see it until it reached Korti. On 21st December it had left Sarras, bringing oil and stores to be used in the Nile steamers of which I was to take charge. For by this time I had been informed of Lord Wolseley's intention to send the Naval Brigade with the Camel Corps to make a dash across the Bayuda Desert to Metemmeh. The Naval Brigade was then to attack Khartoum in Gordon's steamers, while the Camel Corps attacked it by land.

So I remained yet a little while at Dal, helping the boats through the Cataract, and camping in the sand. I found a baby scorpion two and a half inches long in my {244} handkerchief. The officer whose tent was next to mine, shared it with a sand-rat, which used to fill his slippers with dhura grains every night, and which jumped on and off my knee when I breakfasted with my friend. Actually there came two or three days when I had nothing to do; and when I could take a hot bath in peace, with the luxury of a cake of carbolic soap, and sit in my little canvas chair, which was, however, speedily stolen.

My poor servant José was suddenly taken with so sharp an attack of fever that he was stricken helpless and could hardly lift a cup to his lips. His pulse was going like a machine gun. He was too ill to be moved on mule-back to the hospital, which was eight miles distant; and I had to doctor him myself. I gave him castor-oil, deprived him of all food for twenty-four hours, gave him five grains of quinine every two hours, and plenty of lime-juice to drink; and he was soon well again.

Lord Avonmore, Lieutenant-Colonel J. Alleyne, Captain Burnaby and myself subscribed to a Christmas dinner of extraordinary charm, eaten with the Guards. The menu was:—soup made of bully beef, onions, rice and boiled biscuit, fish from the Nile, stewed bully beef and chicken à la as-if-they-had-been-trained-for-long-distance-races-for-a-year, entremet of biscuit and jam. Rum to drink.

I should have missed that feast, and should have been on the way to Korti post-haste several days before Christmas, had it not been that a telegram sent by Lord Wolseley to me had been delayed in transmission. On 27th December I received an urgent telegram from General Buller, asking where I was and what I was doing. A week previously Lord Wolseley had telegraphed instructions that I was to proceed to Korti with all speed to arrive with the first division of the Naval Brigade. Having received no orders, I was waiting for the second division so that I might see that it was complete and satisfactory. (It arrived at Dal the day after I left that place in obedience to General Buller's orders.)


From Dal to Korti, as the crow flies, is some 200 miles to the southward; following up the river, which, with many windings, flows north from Korti, the distance is more than half as much again. I was already (by no fault of mine) a week behind; my instructions were to proceed by the shortest possible route by the quickest possible means, camels or steam pinnace; and immediately I received General Buller's telegram I dashed off to the Commissariat. Here I obtained four camels to carry José, myself and my kit to the nearest point at which I could catch a steam pinnace on the river. Also, by riding the first stage of the journey, I could avoid two wide bends of the Nile. The camels were but baggage animals; they all had sore backs; and I could get no proper saddle. I strapped my rug on the wooden framework. We started the same evening at seven o'clock.

The night had fallen when we left behind us the stir of the armed camp and plunged into the deep stillness of the desert. The brilliant moonlight sharply illumined the low rocky hills, and the withered scrub, near and far; the hard gravelly track stretched plainly before us; and the camels went noiselessly forward on their great padded feet. So, hour after hour. It was one o'clock upon the following morning (21st December) when we rode into a dark and silent village. Lighting upon an empty hut, we crawled into it, cooked a little supper, and went to sleep.

Before daylight we were awakened by the noise of voices crying and quarrelling; and there were two black negresses upbraiding us, and beyond them was a group of agitated natives. It appeared that we were desecrating the village mosque. Having soothed the inhabitants, we started. That day we rode from 6 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. with a halt of an hour and a half at midday, travelling 40 miles in twelve hours, good going for baggage camels with sore backs. By that time I was getting sore, too. We slept that night at Absarat, started the next morning (29th December) at 8.30, and rode to Abu Fatmeh, arriving at 4 p.m. Starting next morning at nine o'clock, we arrived at Kaibur at 5 p.m. Here, to my {246} intense relief, we picked up Colville and his steam pinnace, in which we instantly embarked for Korti.

During the last three days and a half we had been thirty-two hours in the saddle (which, strictly speaking, my camel had not) and a part of my anatomy was quite worn away. I lay down in the pinnace and hoped to become healed.

We did not know it; but the same evening, General Sir Herbert Stewart's Desert Column left Korti upon the great forced march of the forlorn hope.

The pinnace, whose furnaces were burning wood, most of which was wet and green, pounded slowly up river until we met the steamer Nassifara, into which I transferred myself. Blissful was the rest in that steamer after my two months' tremendous toil getting the boats through the Bab-el-Kebir and the long ride across the desert. So I lay in the steamer and lived on the height of diet, fresh meat, milk, butter and eggs, till my tunic hardly held me. I did not then know why Lord Wolseley had sent for me in so great a hurry.


THE SOUDAN WAR (Continued)



By the end of December, 1884, the whole of the expedition was in process of concentrating at Korti. At Korti the Nile fetches a wide arc north-eastward. The chord of the arc, running south-eastward, runs from Korti to Metemmeh, and Shendi, which stands on the farther, or east, bank. From Korti to Metemmeh is 176 miles across the desert. Shendi was the rendezvous at which the troops were to meet Gordon's steamers sent down by him from Khartoum. Wolseley's object in sending Lord Charles Beresford with the Naval Brigade was that he should take command of the steamers, which, filled with troops, were to proceed up to Khartoum. The first business of the Desert Column under General Sir Herbert Stewart, was to seize the wells of Jakdul, which lay 100 miles distant from Korti, and to hold them, thus securing the main water supply on the desert route and an intermediate station between Metemmeh and the base at Korti. Having obtained possession of the wells, the Guards' Battalion was to be left there, while the remainder of the Column returned to Korti, there to be sufficiently reinforced to return to Jakdul, and to complete the march to Metemmeh. Such was the original idea. The reason why sufficient troops and transport were not sent in the first instance, thereby avoiding the necessity of the return {248} of the greater part of the Column to Korti, and its second march with the reinforcements, seems to have been the scarcity of camels.

When the Desert Column made its first march, Lord Charles Beresford and the Naval Brigade were still on their way to Korti. The first division under the command of Lord Charles marched with the Desert Column on its return.

The first Desert Column numbered 73 officers, 1212 men and natives, and 2091 camels. It consisted of one squadron of the 19th Hussars, Guards' Camel Regiment, Mounted Infantry, Engineers, 1357 camels carrying stores and driven by natives, Medical Staff Corps, and Bearer Company. Personal luggage was limited to 40 lb. a man. An account of the march is given by Count Gleichen, in his pleasant and interesting book (to which the present writer is much indebted) With the Camel Corps up the Nile (Chapman & Hall). Some years previously the route from Korti to Metemmeh had been surveyed by Ismail Pasha, who had intended to run a railway along it from Wady Halfa to Khartoum; and the map then made of the district was in possession of the Column. The enemy were reported to be about; but it was expected that they would be found beyond the Jakdul Wells; as indeed they were.

The Desert Column started from Korti on the afternoon of Tuesday, 30th December, 1884. The Hussars escorted a party of native guides and scouted ahead. The Column marched the whole of that night, in the light of a brilliant moon, across hard sand or gravel, amid low hills of black rock, at whose bases grew long yellow savas grass and mimosa bushes, and in places mimosa trees.

At 8.30 on the morning of the 31st December they halted until 3 p.m., marched till 8.30 p.m., found the wells of Abu Hashim nearly dry, marched on, ascending a stony tableland, and still marching, sang the New Year in at midnight; came to the wells of El Howeiyat, drank them dry and bivouacked until 6 a.m. on the morning of the 1st January, 1885.


All that morning they marched, coming at midday to a plain covered with scrub and intersected with dry water-courses; rested for three hours; marched all that night, and about 7 a.m. on the morning of 2nd January, entered the defile, floored with large loose stones and closed in with steep black hills, leading to the wells of Jakdul. These are deep pools filling clefts in the rock of the hills encompassing the little valley, three reservoirs rising one above the other. Count Gleichen, who was the first man to climb to the upper pools, thus describes the middle pool.

"Eighty feet above my head towered an overhanging precipice of black rock; behind me rose another of the same height; at the foot of the one in front lay a beautiful, large ice-green pool, deepening into black as I looked into its transparent depths. Scarlet dragon-flies flitted about in the shade; rocks covered with dark-green weed looked out of the water; the air was cool almost to coldness. It was like being dropped into a fairy grotto, at least so it seemed to me after grilling for days in the sun."

When the Desert Column reached that oasis, they had been on the march for sixty-four hours, with no more than four hours' consecutive sleep. The time as recorded by Count Gleichen was "sixty-four hours, thirty-four hours on the move and thirty broken up into short halts." The distance covered was a little under 100 miles; therefore the camels' rate of marching averaged as nearly as may be two and three-quarter miles an hour throughout. A camel walks like clock-work, and if he quickens his speed he keeps the same length of pace, almost exactly one yard.

The Guards' Battalion, to which were attached the Royal Marines, with six Hussars and 15 Engineers remained at the Wells. The rest of the Column left Jakdul at dusk of the day upon which they had arrived, to return to Korti, bivouacking that night in the desert.

The detachment at Jakdul made roads, built forts, and laid out the camp for the returning Column. On 11th {250} January, a convoy of 1000 camels carrying stores and ammunition, under the command of Colonel Stanley Clarke, arrived at Jakdul.

In the meantime, on 31st December, the day after which the Desert Column had started for the first time, Lord Wolseley had received a written message from Gordon, "Khartoum all right," dated 14th December. Should it be captured, the message was intended to deceive the captor. The messenger delivered verbal information of a different tenure, to the effect that Gordon was hard pressed and that provisions were becoming very scarce.

At the time of the starting of the Desert Column upon its second march, when it was accompanied by the first division of the Naval Brigade under the command of Lord Charles Beresford, and by other reinforcements, the general situation was briefly as follows.

The River Column, which was intended to clear the country along the Nile, to occupy Berber, and thence to join the Desert Column at Metemmeh, was assembling at Hamdab, 52 miles above Korti. It was commanded by General Earle. The four steamers sent down the river from Khartoum by General Gordon in October, were at Nasri Island, below the Shabloka Cataract, half-way between Khartoum and Metemmeh, which are 98 miles apart. Korti and Berber, as a glance at the map will show, occupy respectively the left and right corners of the base of an inverted pyramid, of which Metemmeh is the apex, while Khartoum may be figured as at the end of a line 98 miles long depending from the apex. The Desert Column traversed one side of the triangle, from Korti to Metemmeh; the River Column was intended to traverse the other two sides.

THE NILE from Wadi Halfa to Khartoum
from Wadi Halfa to Khartoum


THE SOUDAN WAR (Continued)


"When years ago I 'listed, lads,
    To serve our Gracious Queen,
The sergeant made me understand
    I was a 'Royal Marine.'
He said we sometimes served in ships,
    And sometimes on the shore;
But did not say I should wear spurs,
    Or be in the Camel Corps."
Songs of the Camel Corps (Sergt. H. EAGLE, R.M.C.C.)

Korti was a city of tents arrayed amid groves of fronded palm overhanging the broad river; beyond, the illimitable coloured spaces of the desert, barred with plains of tawny grass set with mimosa, and green fields of dhura, and merging into the far rose-hued hills. All day long the strong sun smote upon its yellow avenues, and the bugles called, and the north wind, steady and cool, blew the boats up the river, and the men, ragged and cheery and tanned saddle-colour, came marching in and were absorbed into the great armed camp. Thence were to spring two long arms of fighting men, one to encircle the river, the other to reach across the desert, strike at Khartoum and save Gordon.

The day after I arrived at Korti, 5th January, 1885, the desert arm had bent back to obtain reinforcements; because there were not enough camels to furnish transport for the first march.


The first division of the Naval Brigade, under Lieutenant Alfred Pigott, also arrived on the 5th. Officers and men alike were covered with little black pustules, due to the poison carried by the flies. Nevertheless, they were fit and well and all a-taunto. They were brigaded under my command with Sir Herbert Stewart's Desert Column. The intention was that Gordon's steamers, then waiting for us somewhere between Metemmeh and Khartoum, should be manned with the sailors and a detachment of infantry, and should take Sir Charles Wilson up to Khartoum. The second division of the Naval Brigade was still on its way up. It eventually joined us at Gubat. I may here say, for the sake of clearness, that Gubat is close to Metemmeh and that Shendi lies on the farther, or east, bank of the Nile, so that Gubat, Metemmeh and Shendi were really all within the area of the rendezvous at which the River Column under General Earle was intended to join forces with the Desert Column.

Sir Herbert Stewart arrived at Korti on the 5th and left that place on the 8th, the intervening days being occupied in preparations. An essential part of my own arrangements consisted in obtaining spare boiler-plates, rivets, oakum, lubricating oil, and engineers' stores generally, as I foresaw that these would be needed for the steamers, which had already been knocking about the Nile in a hostile country for some three months. At first, Sir Redvers Buller refused to let me have either the stores or the camels upon which to carry them. He was most good-natured and sympathetic, but he did not immediately perceive the necessity.

"What do you want boiler-plates for?" he said. "Are you going to mend the camels with them?"

But he let me have what I wanted. (I did mend the camels with oakum.) With other stores, I took eight boiler-plates, and a quantity of rivets. One of those plates, and a couple of dozen of those rivets, saved the Column.

The Gardner gun of the Naval Brigade was carried in pieces on four camels. Number one carried the barrels, {253} number two training and elevating gear and wheels, number three the trail, number four, four boxes of hoppers. The limber was abolished for the sake of handiness. The gun was unloaded, mounted, feed-plate full, and ready to march in under four minutes. When marching with the gun, the men hauled it with drag-ropes, muzzle first, the trail being lifted and carried upon a light pole. Upon going into action the trail was dropped and the gun was ready, all the confusion and delay caused by unlimbering in a crowded space being thus avoided.

At midday the 8th January, the Desert Column paraded for its second and final march, behind the village of Korti, and was inspected by Lord Wolseley. The same thought inspired every officer and man: we are getting to the real business at last.

The Desert Column, quoting from the figures given in Sir Charles Wilson's excellent work, From Korti to Khartoum, was composed as follows:

                                                                                              N.-C. Officers
                                                                      Officers and Men

                                                 N.-C. Officers
                                     Officers       and Men

  Staff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     8               6
  Naval Brigade . . . . . . . . . . .     5              53
  19th Hussars  . . . . . . . . . . .     9             121
  Heavy Camel Regiment  . . . . . . .    24             376
  M. I. Camel Regiment  . . . . . . .    21             336
  Royal Artillery . . . . . . . . . .     4              39
  Royal Sussex Regiment . . . . . . .    16             401
  Essex Regiment  . . . . . . . . . .     3              55
  Commissariat and Transport  . . . .     5              72
  Medical Staff . . . . . . . . . . .     3              50
                                         --            ----
                                         98            1509
                                         ==            ====

And four guns (one Gardner, three 7-pr. screw guns), 304 natives, 2228 camels, and 155 horses. Already there were along the route at the wells of Howeiyat (left on the first march) 33 officers and men of the M. I. Camel Regiment and 33 camels; and at Jakdul 422 officers and men of the Guards' Camel Regiment (including Royal Marines), Royal Engineers, and Medical Staff, and 20 camels. {254} The Desert Column picked up these detachments as it went along, leaving others in their places.

The Column rode off at 2 o'clock p.m. amid a chorus of good wishes from our comrades. I rode my white donkey, County Waterford, which had been sent up to Korti by boat, We marched ten miles; halted at sunset and bivouacked, and started again half an hour after midnight. The moon rode high, and it was very cold; but the cold was invigorating; and the hard gravel or sand of the track made good going. Desert marching with camels demands perpetual attention; the loads slip on the camels and must be adjusted; a native driver unships the load and drops it to save himself trouble; camels stray or break loose. By means of perpetual driving, the unwieldy herd creeps forward with noiseless footsteps, at something under three miles an hour.

Although the camels were so numerous, their numbers had been reduced to the bare requirements of that small mobile column, which alone could hope to achieve the enterprise.

At 10 o'clock a.m. on the 9th, we halted for four hours in a valley of grass and mimosa trees; marched till sunset and came to another grassy valley and bivouacked. On the 10th we started before daylight, and reached the wells of El Howeiyat at noon, very thirsty, and drank muddy water and breakfasted; marched on until long after dark over rough ground, the men very thirsty, the camels slipping and falling all over the place, and at length bivouacked. Starting again before daylight on the 11th, we came to the wooded valley set among granite hills, where are the wells of Abu Halfa, men and animals suffering greatly from thirst. The wells consisted of a muddy pond and a few small pools of bitter water. More holes were dug, and the watering went on all the afternoon and all night.

Next morning, 12th January, we loaded up at daylight, and marched across the plain lying beneath the range of yellow hills, broken by black rocks, called Jebel Jelif; entered a grassy and wide valley, ending in a wall of rock; turned {255} the corner of the wall, and came into a narrower valley, full of large round stones, and closed in at the upper end by precipices, riven into clefts, within which were the pools of Jakdul. We beheld roads cleared of stones, and the sign-boards of a camp, and the forts of the garrison, and stone walls crowning the hills, one high on the left, two high on the right hand. In ten days the little detachment of Guards, Royal Marines and Engineers under Major Dorward, R.E., had performed an incredible amount of work: road-making, wall-building, laying-out, canal-digging and reservoir-making. All was ready for Sir Herbert Stewart's force, which took up its quarters at once.

That evening the Guards gave an excellent dinner to the Staff, substituting fresh gazelle and sand-grouse for bully-beef. All night the men were drawing water from the upper pool of the wells, in which was the best water, by the light of lanterns.

The next day, 13th January, all were hard at work watering the camels and preparing for the advance on the morrow. The camels were already suffering severely: some thirty had dropped dead on the way; and owing to the impossibility of obtaining enough animals to carry the requisite grain, they were growing thin. It will be observed that the whole progress of the expedition depended upon camels as the sole means of transport.

When a camel falls from exhaustion, it rolls over upon its side, and is unable to rise. But it is not going to die unless it stretches its head back; and it has still a store of latent energy; for a beast will seldom of its own accord go on to the last. It may sound cruel; but in that expedition it was a case of a man's life or a camel's suffering. When I came across a fallen camel, I had it hove upright with a gun-pole, loaded men upon it, and so got them over another thirty or forty miles. By the exercise of care and forethought, I succeeded in bringing back from the expedition more camels, in the proportion of those in my control, than others, much to the interest of my old friend Sir Redvers {256} Buller. He asked me how it was done; and I told him that I superintended the feeding of the camels myself. If a camel was exhausted, I treated it as I would treat a tired hunter, which, after a long day, refuses its food. I gave the exhausted camels food by handfuls, putting them upon a piece of cloth or canvas, instead of throwing the whole ration upon the ground at once.

Major Kitchener (now Lord Kitchener of Khartoum), who was dwelling in a cave in the hillside, reported that Khashm-el-Mus Bey, Malik (King) of the Shagiyeh tribe, was at Shendi with three of Gordon's steamers. (He was actually at Nasri Island.) Lieutenant E. J. Montagu-Stuart-Wortley, King's Royal Rifles, joined the column for service with Sir Charles Wilson in Khartoum. Little did we anticipate in what his plucky service would consist. Colonel Burnaby came in with a supply of grain, most of which was left at Jakdul, as the camels which had brought it were needed to carry stores for the Column. There were 800 Commissariat camels, carrying provisions for 1500 men for a month, the first instalment of the depot it was intended to form at Metemmeh, as the base camp from which to advance upon Khartoum.

With Burnaby came Captain Gascoigne, who had special knowledge of the Eastern Soudan, and who afterwards went up to Khartoum with Sir Charles Wilson.

The Column left Jakdul at 2 o'clock p.m. on 14th January, and marched for three hours. It was generally supposed that we might be attacked between Jakdul and Metemmeh, a distance of between 70 and 80 miles; although the only intelligence we had was Major Kitchener's report that 3000 men under the Mahdi's Emir were at Metemmeh. We did not know that the occupation of Jakdul by Sir Herbert Stewart on the 2nd of January, had moved the Mahdi to determine upon the destruction of the Desert Column between Jakdul and Metemmeh. The news of the occupation of Jakdul had travelled with extraordinary swiftness. It was known on the 4th January, or two {257} days after the event, in Berber, nearly 90 miles from Jakdul as the crow flies; and on that day the Emir of Berber dispatched his men to reinforce the Emir of Metemmeh. If the news were known in Berber and Metemmeh it must have run through the whole surrounding area of desert. The ten days occupied by the Column in returning to Korti and returning again to Jakdul, gave the enemy the time they needed to concentrate in front of us. Moreover, Omdurman had fallen during the second week in January, setting free a number of the Mahdi's soldiers. But of these things we were ignorant when we pushed out of Jakdul. We picked up a Remington rifle, and saw some horse-tracks, and that was all.

During the second night out from Jakdul (the 15th-16th) the camels were knee-lashed and dispositions were made in case of attack, but nothing happened. It was the last night's rest we were to have for some time.

On the morning of the 16th we started as usual in the dark. When the light came, we saw the hills of Abu Klea in the distance, and after marching nearly to them, halted for breakfast, In the meantime Lieutenant-Colonel Barrow, with his squadron of the 19th Hussars, had gone ahead to occupy the wells of Abu Klea. About 11 a.m. Barrow returned to report that there was a large force of the enemy between us and the wells. The column was then lying in a shallow valley, whence the track led uphill over rough ground towards a pass cleft in the range of hills, beyond which were the wells.

The Column fell in and mounted at once. Through glasses we could clearly distinguish innumerable white-robed figures of Arabs, relieved upon the black cliffs dominating the pass, leaping and gesticulating. Here and there were puffs of smoke, followed after an interval by a faint report; but the range was too far, and no bullet arrived. Nearer hand, were swiftly jerking the isolated flags of the signallers, communicating from the advanced scouts to the main body. The Naval Brigade with the {258} Mounted Infantry, which were on the left of the Column, were ordered to ascend the hill on the left of the line of advance, to guard the flank of the Column.

We dragged up the Gardner gun, placed it in position, and built a breastwork of loose stones. By the time we had finished, it was about 4 o'clock. Beyond and beneath us, a line of green and white flags was strung across the valley, fluttering above the scrub, and these, with a large tent, denoted the headquarters of the enemy.

The rest of the Column were hurriedly building a zeriba in the valley. As the twilight fell, a party of the enemy crept to the summit of the hill on the right flank, opposite to our fort, and dropped bullets at long range into the Column below, which replied with a couple of screw guns. As the darkness thickened, there arose that maddening noise of tom-toms, whose hollow and menacing beat, endlessly and pitilessly repeated, haunts those who have heard it to the last day of their lives. Swelling and falling, it sounds now hard at hand, and again far away. That night, we lay behind the breastwork, sleepless and very cold; and the deadly throbbing of the drums filled the air, mingled with the murmur of many voices and the rustle as of many feet, and punctuated with the sullen crack of rifles, now firing singly, now in a volley, and the whine of bullets. At intervals, thinking the enemy were upon us, we stood to arms.

When at last the day broke, there were thousands of white-robed figures clustering nearer upon the hills, and the bullets thickened, so that, chilled as we were, rather than attempt to warm ourselves by exercise we were fain to lie behind the breastwork. The Naval Brigade had no casualties.

Our detachment was speedily called in, so that we had no time for breakfast, which was being hastily eaten under fire by the rest of the Column. All we had was a biscuit and a drink of water. We took up our position on the right front. Sir Herbert Stewart waited for a time in case the {259} enemy should attack. Major Gough, commanding the Mounted Infantry, was knocked senseless by a bullet graze; Major Dickson of the Royals was shot through the knee; Lieutenant Lyall of the Royal Artillery was hit in the back.

Sir Herbert Stewart and Colonel Burnaby were riding about on high ground, a mark for the enemy. I saw the general's bugler drop close beside him, and running up, implored both him and Burnaby to dismount, but they would not. I had hardly returned to my place when I heard another bullet strike, and saw Burnaby's horse fall, throwing its rider. I went to help Burnaby to his feet, and as I picked him up, he said a curious thing. He said, "I'm not in luck to-day, Charlie."

When it became evident that the enemy would not attack, Sir Herbert Stewart decided to take the initiative. He ordered a square to be formed outside the zeriba, in which the baggage and the camels were to be left in charge of a small garrison.

In the centre of the square were to be camels, carrying water, ammunition, and cacolets (litters) for the wounded. I do not know how many camels there were. Count Gleichen says about 30; Colonel Colville, in the official history, gives the figure as 150. In the front of the square (looking from the rear of the square forward), left, and nearly all down the left flank, were Mounted Infantry; on the right front, and half-way down the right flank, Guards' Camel Regiment. Beginning on the left flank where Mounted Infantry ended, and continuing round the rear face, were the Heavy Camel Regiment. Then, in the centre of the rear, was the Naval Brigade with Gardner gun. On the right of rear face, the Heavy Camel Regiment extended to the angle. Round the corner, lower right flank, were the Royal Sussex, then came the Royal Marines, continuing to the Guards' Camel Regiment. Behind the centre of the front ranks were the three screw guns. In case of attack, I was directed to use my own judgment as to placing the Gardner gun.


The square was thus formed under fire. Bear in mind that the column was upon the floor of a valley commanded by slopes and hill-tops occupied by the enemy. The route of the square lay over the lower slopes of the hills on the right, thus avoiding the hollow way on the left commanded by the enemy's breastworks. Captain Campbell's company of Mounted Infantry, and Colonel Barrow with his Hussars, went ahead to skirmish on the front and on the left flank, and somewhat checked the fire, while Lieutenant Romilly and a detachment of Scots Guards skirmished ahead on the right.

It was about 10 a.m. when the square began to move. The enemy, increasing their fire, kept pace with it. The route, studded with rocky knolls, furrowed with watercourses, and sharply rising and falling, was almost impassable for the camels. They lagged behind, slipping and falling, and we of the rear face were all tangled up with a grunting, squealing, reeking mass of struggling animals. Their drivers, terrified by the murderous fire coming from the right, were pressing back towards the left rear angle. By dint of the most splendid exertions, the sailors kept up, dragging the Gardner gun. Men were dropping, and halts must be made while they were hoisted into the cacolets and their camels forced into the square. Surgeon J. Magill, attending a wounded skirmisher outside the square, was hit in the leg. During the halts the enemy's fire was returned, driving off large numbers on the hills to the right. In about an hour we covered two miles.

Then we saw, on the left front, about 600 yards away, a line of green and white flags twinkling on long poles planted in the grass and scrub. No one knew what these might portend. As the fire was hottest on the right, we thought that the main body would attack from that quarter. Suddenly, as we halted, more and yet more flags flashed above the green; and the next moment the valley was alive with black and white figures, and resounding with their cries. The whole body of them moved swiftly and in {261} perfect order across our left front, disappearing behind rocks and herbage.

The square was instantly moved forward some thirty yards on the slope, in order to gain a better position. Ere the movement was completed, the enemy reappeared.


THE SOUDAN WAR (Continued)


"England well may speak with wonder
    Of the small heroic band,
Fearlessly, though parched and weary,
    Toiling 'cross the desert sand;
How they met the foeman's onslaught,
    Firm, undaunted, with a cheer,
Drove ten times or more their number,
    Down the vale of Abu Klea."
Songs of the Camel Corps (Serg. H. EAGLE, R.M.C.C.)

Before the square was completely formed on the top of the knoll at the foot of which it had been halted when the thousands of Arabs sprang into view on the left front, the Arabs reappeared on the left rear, about 500 yards distant. They were formed into three phalanxes joined together, the points of the three wedges being headed by emirs or sheikhs, riding with banners. The horsemen came on at a hand-gallop, the masses of footmen keeping up with them. Our skirmishers were racing in for their lives. The last man was overtaken and speared.

At this moment the left rear angle of the square was still unformed. The camels were still struggling into it. Several camels, laden with wounded, had lain down at the foot of the slope and their drivers had fled into the square; and these animals were being dragged in by soldiers. The appalling danger of this open corner was instantly evident. I told the bugler to sound the halt, and having forced my way through the press to the front of the square, and reported the case to Sir Herbert Stewart, who said, "Quite right," I struggled back to the rear.


Then I ordered the crew of the Gardner gun to run it outside the square to the left flank. At the same time, Colonel Burnaby wheeled Number 3 Company (4th and 5th Dragoon Guards) from the rear face to the left flank. Number 4 Company (Scots Greys and Royals) had already wheeled from the rear to the left flank, so that they were just behind me. Five or six paces outside the square we dropped the trail of the gun. So swiftly did these things happen that the leading ranks of the enemy were still 400 yards away.

They were tearing down upon us with a roar like the roar of the sea, an immense surging wave of white-slashed black forms brandishing bright spears and long flashing swords; and all were chanting, as they leaped and ran, the war-song of their faith, "La ilaha ill' Allah Mohammedu rasul Allah"; and the terrible rain of bullets poured into them by the Mounted Infantry and the Guards stayed them not. They wore the loose white robe of the Mahdi's uniform, looped over the left shoulder, and the straw skullcap. These things we heard and saw in a flash, as the formidable wave swept steadily nearer.

I laid the Gardner gun myself to make sure. As I fired, I saw the enemy mown down in rows, dropping like ninepins; but as the men killed were in rear of the front rank, after firing about forty rounds (eight turns of the lever), I lowered the elevation. I was putting in most effective work on the leading ranks and had fired about thirty rounds when the gun jammed. The extraction had pulled the head from a discharged cartridge, leaving the empty cylinder in the barrel. William Rhodes, chief boatswain's mate, and myself immediately set to work to unscrew the feed-plate in order to clear the barrel or to take out its lock. The next moment the enemy were on top of us. The feed-plate dropped on my head, knocking me under the gun and across its trail. Simultaneously a spear was thrust right through poor Rhodes, who was instantly killed at my side. Walter Miller the armourer was speared beside the gun at the same time. I was knocked off the trail of the gun {264} by a blow with the handle of an axe, the blade of which missed me. An Arab thrust at me with his spear, and I caught the blade, cutting my hand, and before he could recover his weapon a bullet dropped him. Struggling to my feet, I was carried bodily backwards by the tremendous impact of the rush, right back upon the front rank of the men of Number 4 Company, who stood like rocks.

I can compare the press to nothing but the crush of a theatre crowd alarmed by a cry of fire. Immediately facing me was an Arab holding a spear over his head, the staff of the weapon being jammed against his back by the pressure behind him. I could draw neither sword nor pistol. The front ranks of our men could not use rifle or bayonet for a few moments. But the pressure, forcing our men backwards up the hill, presently enabled the rear rank, now occupying a position of a few inches higher than the enemy, to fire over the heads of the front rank right into the mass of the Arabs. The bullets whizzed close by my head; and one passed through my helmet. The Arabs fell in heaps, whereupon our front rank, the pressure upon them relaxing, fired, and fought hand to hand with the bayonet, cursing as the rifles jammed and the shoddy bayonets twisted like tin.

The enemy wavered and broke away, some retreating, but the greater number turning to the rear face of the square, carrying some of the Naval Brigade with them. The rest of my men manned the gun and opened fire on the retreating enemy. But by the time the gun was in action the retreating dervishes had hidden themselves in a nullah, and the main body of the enemy had burst into the gap left by the camels in the rear face. My men joined in the furious hand-to-hand fighting all among the jam of men and camels. The ranks of the front face of the square had turned about face and were firing inwards. Poor Burnaby (who was "not in luck to-day") was thrown from his horse, and was killed by a sword cut in the neck as he lay on the ground.


Fighting next to me in the square was "Bloody-minded Piggot"—Captain C. P. Piggot of the 21st Hussars—using a shot-gun charged with buck-shot. The Arabs were crawling and twisting under the camels and in and out the legs of the men, whom they tried to stab in the back, and Piggot was loading and firing, and the bluejackets kept calling to him, "Here's another joker, sir!" I saw the bald head of an Arab emerging from a pile of bodies, and as Piggot fired I saw the bald crown riddled like the rose of a watering-pot.

One mounted sheikh, at least, won right into the square, where the bodies of himself and his horse were found afterwards.

Numbers 4 and 5 Company, who had withstood the first rush until they were pressed back upon the mass of camels, were still fighting in front when they were attacked in rear. There, the left wing of the Heavy Camel Regiment—Scots Greys, Royals, and 5th Dragoon Guards—did desperate hand-to-hand fighting in the square, while the right wing and the Royal Sussex by their steady fire kept off the rest of the enemy. The stress endured only a few minutes. Every Arab inside the square was slain. The camels, which had made the weak corner of the square, afterwards saved it by presenting a solid, irremovable obstacle to the enemy.

As the enemy retired, Sir Herbert Stewart gave the word, and our men cheered again and again, and the retreating Arabs turned and shook their fists at us.

Their desperate courage was marvellous. I saw a boy of some twelve years of age, who had been shot through the stomach, walk slowly up through a storm of bullets and thrust his spear at one of our men. I saw several Arabs writhe from out a pile of dead and wounded, and charge some eighty yards under fire towards us, and one of them ran right up to the bayonets and flung himself upon them and was killed. I saw an Arab, who was wounded in the legs, sit up, and hurl his spear at a passing soldier. As the soldier stopped to load his rifle, the Arab tried to {266} reach another spear, and failing, caught up stones and cast them at his foe; and then, when the soldier presented his rifle and took a deliberate aim, the Arab sat perfectly still looking down the barrel, till the bullet killed him.

Surgeon-General Sir Arthur W. May tells me of an instance of the spirit of the men. A huge able seaman, nicknamed Jumbo, who was one of the gun's crew when it was run outside the square, was thrown upon his face by the charge; and apparently every Arab who went past or over him, had a dig at the prostrate seaman.

After the action, with the help of able seaman Laker, I carried him to the doctor. He was a mass of blood, which soaked my tunic. I tried to wash it afterwards with sand. He must have weighed about sixteen stone. Quite recently, at Stornoway, where he is chief petty officer of the Coast-guard, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Laker, and we recalled the salving of poor Jumbo.

He had seventeen wounds, spear-thrusts, and sword-cuts. Upon visiting him in the Field Hospital a few days later, Surgeon May, intending to console the patient, said:

"You will be able to be sent back with the next convoy of wounded, after all."

"Sent back?" returned Jumbo indignantly. "I haven't done with the beggars yet!"

He recovered, but not in time to gratify his ardour.

The square was moved some 50 yards from the field of battle and was formed anew. I went to try to find any wounded men of my Brigade. Having brought in two, I was starting for a third time, when someone shouted, "Look out, Charlie!" and I turned about to see an Arab charging at me with a spear. I ran to meet him, sword in hand, parried his spear, then held my sword rigid at arm's length. He ran right up the blade to the hilt, against which his body struck with so great force that he fell backward.

I picked up a man who was shot through the back, and put him upon a camel upon which was a wounded Arab. Presently I heard my man singing out; and I {267} found his thumb was being chewed off by the Arab, whom I hauled off the camel and of whom I disposed in another way.

The bodies of most of my men who were killed were found some 25 yards from the place at which we had worked the gun. Here were the bodies of my poor comrades, Lieutenants Alfred Pigott and R. E. de Lisle. Pigott had been promoted to commander, but he never knew it. De Lisle had his whole face cut clean off. Captain C. P. Piggot (not to be confused with the naval officer, Commander Alfred Pigott), who fought like a Paladin in the square, and who knew not fear, died some years afterwards in England. (I took him on my coach to Lord's; he was so weak that he could not get upon it without the help of a footman, and he looked dreadfully ill. He told me that the doctor had given him three weeks to live; but he was dead in three days.)

Eight of the Naval Brigade were killed and seven were wounded, out of 40 who went into action. Every man of the Brigade handling the gun outside the square was killed, excepting myself.

I observed that the rows of bullets from the Gardner gun, which was rifle calibre .45-inch, with five barrels, had cut off heads and tops of heads as though sliced horizontally with a knife.

The official account gives the loss of the enemy at 1100 in the vicinity of the square.

Nearly half the British rifles jammed, owing to the use of leaf cartridges. The Remington rifles used by the Mahdi's soldiers had solid drawn cartridges which did not jam. During the action of Abu Klea the officers were almost entirely employed in clearing jammed rifles passed back to them by the men. The British bayonets and cutlasses bent and twisted, the result of a combination of knavery and laziness on the part of those who were trusted to supply the soldier with weapons upon which his life depends. The bayonets were blunt, because no one had thought of sharpening them. The spears of the Arabs were sharp like {268} razors. The cutlasses of the Naval Brigade were specially sharpened.

I noticed that when a soldier was killed, a bluejacket always endeavoured to secure his bayonet; and that when a sailor was killed, a soldier always tried to take his hat, preferring it to the Army helmet.

The official report of Sir Charles Wilson states the total number of the enemy to have been from 9000 to 11,000, consisting of men from Berber, Metemmeh, Kordofan, and 1000 men of the Mahdi's army. Of the total number, it was estimated that 5000 or 6000 attacked. The British numbered something over 1200 men; but, these being in square, the weight of the attack fell upon no more than about 300 men. There were 342 men of the Royal Artillery on the front face of the square; 235 men on the left flank, reinforced when the charge came by some of the Naval Brigade and a company from the rear face; 300 men and the Naval Brigade, between 40 and 50 strong, on the rear face; and 307 men on the right flank. The centre was a solid mass of camels. This thin framework of men, forced back upon the camels, resisted the tremendous impact of thousands of frenzied fanatics who knew not fear, and whom nothing stopped but death.

I cannot better describe the result than by quoting the words of Colonel the Hon. Reginald Talbot, 1st Life Guards, who commanded the Heavy Camel Regiment at Abu Klea (Nineteenth Century, Jan. 1886):

"It was an Inkerman on a small scale—a soldiers' battle; strength, determination, steadiness, and unflinching courage alone could have stemmed the onslaught."

It was a soldiers' battle, because the attack was sudden; it came before the square was formed; and in the stress and tumult orders were useless.



THE SOUDAN WAR (Continued)


"We had beat the foe at Abu Klea, and now had marched all night,
Parching with thirst, each longed to see the first faint streak of light,
For all expected with the dawn to see the river flow.
'Twas there all right, but in our path stood thousands of the foe;
We halted, and a barricade of biscuit boxes made,
And swift their deadly bullets flew round that frail barricade,
And many a gallant fellow dropped before the welcome cry,
'Form square' was heard, 'we must advance, and reach the Nile or die.'"
Songs of the Camel Corps (Sergeant H. EAGLE, R.M.C.C.)

By the time the wounded were picked up, the dead counted, and their weapons destroyed, and the square was ready to start, it was half-past three in the afternoon. There was no food, and hardly any water. The soldiers suffered dreadfully from thirst; their tongues were so swollen as to cause intense pain, their lips black, their mouths covered with white mucus. Several men fainted. Luckily I had put a skin of water upon a camel just before the action, so that the men of the Naval Brigade all had a drink, and there was a little water over for the wounded. The sailors persisted in smoking; they said it did them good; so I let them.


The wells of Abu Klea lay some three miles ahead. The Cavalry, the horses weak, emaciated, and tormented by thirst, were sent on to reconnoitre. The square followed slowly. So short-handed was the Naval Brigade that I had to clap on to the drag-ropes myself. We hauled the gun through the sand and across nullahs and over rocks till about 5.30 p.m., when we came to the wells, which were small pools in the soil, and which, when they were emptied, slowly filled again. The water was yellow and of the consistency of cream; but it was cool, sweet, and delicious.

Three hundred volunteers from the Heavy Camel Regiment, the Guards' Camel Regiment, and the Mounted Infantry left the wells soon after sunset to march the six weary miles back again to fetch the camels and commissariat. They marched and worked all night; yet their lot was better than ours; for they got food and could keep warm. As for ourselves, we lay down where we were, without food or blankets, and suffered the coldest night in my remembrance. It is suggested to me by a friend who has seen much active service in many wars, that, owing probably to the exhaustion of the nerves, men are far more susceptible to cold after a battle. He himself recalls the night after Magersfontein as the coldest he ever experienced. At any rate, we were cold to the marrow that night of 17th-18th January; cold and bruised and very hungry, the most of us having had no food for twenty-four hours. I must here record my admiration of the medical staff, who worked hard all night, doing their utmost for the sick and wounded.

I sat on an ammunition box and shivered. The wound upon my finger, where the Arab's spear had cut it, though slight, was disproportionately painful. Lieutenant Douglas Dawson (of the Coldstream Guards) came to me and asked me if I had any tobacco. I told him that my tobacco, together with my field-glasses, had departed into the desert with my steed County Waterford, which had run away. Dawson had six cigarettes, of which he gave me three. I would cheerfully have given a year's income for them, as {271} I told him. We agreed that it was hard to have to die without knowing who had won the Derby.

At about seven o'clock next morning (18th January) the convoy returned with the rest of the camels and the commissariat. We had our first meal for some thirty-six hours. Then we went to work to build a fort in which to leave the wounded, and to prepare for the march to the river, some 25 miles distant. A burying party went back to the field of Abu Klea and interred our dead. Some prisoners captured by the convoy on its way back to the camp, reported that Omdurman had fallen; but the information was not made generally known. I did not hear it until we reached Metemmeh.

Sir Herbert Stewart then determined to reach the Nile before next morning. A small detachment of the Royal Sussex was left to guard the wounded. The column marched about 3.30 p.m. It was a desperate venture, for the men had had no sleep for two nights, had fought a battle in between, had suffered agonies of thirst and the exhaustion of hunger. But Sir Herbert Stewart had learned from the prisoners that the enemy who had fought at Abu Klea were no more than the advanced guard of the main body, which would probably come out from Metemmeh to meet us, and that the fall of Omdurman had released a number of the Mahdi's army; and the general wished to reach the river before fighting again. He hoped to be upon the Nile before daylight. In any event, the enterprise of the Desert Column was a forlorn hope; and by this time we all knew it.

Cameron, war correspondent of The Standard, came to me with a very grave face. He was not alarmed for his own safety, for he was a most gallant man; but he feared for the Column.

"Lord Charles," he said, "have you any influence with General Stewart? If so, for God's sake implore him not to go on without reinforcements. I know these people and he does not."


The next time I saw poor Cameron was upon the following day, when he was lying with a bullet-hole in his forehead, dead.

The Column was guided by Ali Loda, a friendly desert freebooter who had been captured during the first march to Jakdul. He was accompanied by Captain Verner and Colonel Barrow. Half the force marched on foot, in case of attack; the mounted men each leading a camel. The commissariat camels were tied in threes, nose to tail, the leading camel being ridden by a native driver. Although both men and camels were tired out, they went bravely along the track leading across a wide plain, with grass and scrub in the distance. By the time it was dark, we had come to the long savas grass, and the tracks, hitherto plain to see in the brilliant starlight, became obscured. Then began the confusion. By this time men and camels were utterly exhausted. There was no moon, but no lights were allowed, and all orders were to be given in a whisper. The camels, weary and famished, lagged and tumbled down; their riders went to sleep and fell off; the leading camels fell behind; and the rear camels, most of them riderless, straggled up to the front. The formation was totally disordered. In the darkness the confusion speedily became inextricable. When there was a halt to wait for stragglers, the men lay down and dropped asleep. About this time the Column blundered into a wood of acacia trees armed with long sharp thorns. There ought to have been no such wood; indeed, Count Gleichen avers that no one ever found it afterwards.

In this state of affairs, the Column lost in the dark in an unknown country, utterly worn out, and inextricably tangled upon itself, I made the Naval Brigade unspan and gave them tea. Then we struggled on, hour after hour. As for silence, the noise might have been heard and probably was heard at Metemmeh. An immense multitudinous murmur went up from the unhappy mob of swearing men and roaring, squealing, grumbling camels. A longer or more exhausting nightmare I never suffered.


Daylight came at last. It was about 6 o'clock on the morning of 19th January. The least we had hoped was to have come within sight of the Nile. But when the Column halted there was no Nile; only a long gravel slope rising before us, set with scattered trees rising from the eternal savas grass and low scrub. Captain Verner went ahead to reconnoitre, and the Column toiled on up the ridge. Then, at last, upon reaching the top at about 7 o'clock, we beheld the wide valley, and the Nile flowing between broad belts of green, and on the left, the roofs of a chain of villages, and the walled town of Metemmeh. Beyond, upon the farther bank, clustered the huts of the village of Shendi. But we had not yet come to the river. And moving out from Metemmeh were crowds of the enemy, moving out to cut us off from the blessed water. Once more, the whole air was throbbed with the boding war-drums.

Sir Herbert Stewart determined to give the men breakfast and then to attack. As usual, a zeriba must first be constructed and the force put in laager. The Column was halted upon the top of the rising ground, in a space some 300 yards square, surrounded by a sea of thin scrub, in which the enemy could find cover. A parapet, square in plan, and about two feet six inches high, was constructed of saddles and biscuit boxes and anything else which would serve the purpose. The camels were pushed inside it, and knee-lashed, and in the centre was placed the hospital. During the progress of the work the enemy, concealed in the scrub, crept nearer and opened fire.

The men breakfasted in a rain of bullets. So wearied were they, that some fell asleep over their food, bullets singing all about them. Many of the men got no food at all. I saw two men shot while they slept. One Dervish in particular sniped the Naval Brigade all breakfast-time. I subsequently discovered him in the bush, lying dead, a bullet through his head, in a litter of about 200 spent cartridges. One of my men was shot, and a spoke was knocked out of the wheel of the Gardner gun. A soldier was shot through {274} the stomach, and was carried screaming to the doctors, who gave him laudanum.

The situation was far from encouraging. During the night—the third without sleep—the men had marched for 14 hours, covering 19 miles, and losing some hundred camels. We were still four miles from the river, and between the river and our exhausted force were thousands of raging Dervishes. We were caught in a trap.

Seventy yards from our left flank was a little hill. In order to prevent its capture by the enemy, 30 Guardsmen were told off to occupy it. Volunteers carried saddles and boxes across the bullet-swept space and built a small breastwork with them. Several men were knocked over. In the meantime a company was extended along the ridge some 50 yards beyond the zeriba to check the enemy's fire; but they had nothing at which to aim except the puffs of smoke rising above the scrub. The Naval Brigade had no better luck with the Gardner gun, placed outside the zeriba near the left angle of the front.

At some time between 9 and 10 o'clock Sir Herbert Stewart was hit in the groin and severely wounded. The knowledge of this disaster was concealed from the men as long as possible. Then followed a terrible interval, which lasted for hours. Under that pitiless fire, exposed to an invisible enemy, men and camels were being hit every minute. All this time the heat was intense. There we lay in the blazing sun, helpless, the rattle of rifles all around us, the thin high note of the bullets singing overheard, or ending with a thud close at hand; men crying out suddenly, or groaning; camels lying motionless and silent, blood trickling from their wounds; and no one seemed to know what we were going to do. Of all things, the most trying to a soldier is to lie still under fire without being able to reply. It is true that there was volley firing in reply to the enemy, but they were invisible.

The command had naturally devolved upon Colonel Sir Charles Wilson, R.E., head of the Intelligence Department. {275} It was clear to me that unless we marched against the enemy at once, we were done. I dispatched a written message to Sir Charles Wilson. The messenger was killed. I sent a second message by Sub-Lieutenant E. L. Munro, R.N., who was struck by a bullet which wounded him in seven places.

Shortly afterwards I received a message from Sir Charles Wilson informing me that he was about to march against the enemy. I was ordered to remain in command of the zeriba, with Colonel Barrow.

Before forming square, Sir Charles Wilson ordered the breastwork surrounding the hospital and that defending the little knoll occupied by the Guards in our rear, to be strengthened into redoubts, in case of attack. The ammunition boxes must be shifted from the inside of the main zeriba, and carried across and among the baggage and the packed and helpless camels, a slow, laborious and dangerous business performed under fire. Men and officers worked with a will; yet it was 2 o'clock in the afternoon before they had done. Just then St. Leger Herbert, private secretary to Sir Herbert Stewart and correspondent of The Morning Post, was shot through the head.

The square was composed of half the Heavy Camel Regiment, Guards, Mounted Infantry, Royal Sussex, Royal Engineers, and some dismounted Hussars. Sir Charles Wilson placed it under the executive command of Lieutenant-Colonel the Hon. E. E. Boscawen. The square was formed up in rear of the zeriba at 2.30 and marched at 3 o'clock. The men were cool, alert, and perfectly determined. The British soldier had shut his mouth. He was going to get to the river, enemy or no enemy, or die. By this time the enemy were plainly visible in full force in front, horse and foot gathering behind a line of green and white banners. The moment the square moved beyond the redoubt, it received a heavy fire. Several men were hit, and were carried back to the zeriba by our men, while the square moved forward at quick march. It made a zig-zag course in order to take {276} advantage of the clear patches of ground among the scrub; lying down and firing, and again advancing.

The Naval Brigade mounted the Gardner gun in the angle of the redoubt, and, together with the Royal Artillery and two of their screw-guns under Captain Norton, maintained a steady fire at the three distinct masses of the enemy. Two of these were hovering in front of the advancing square, upon the landward slope of the hill rising between us and the river; the third threatened the zeriba. In all of these we dropped shells, paying particular attention to the body menacing the zeriba. When the shells burst in their midst, the dervishes scattered like a flock of starlings.

In the zeriba were the most of the Hussars, whose horses were worn out, the Royal Artillery, half the Heavy Camel Regiment, half the Royal Engineers, what was left of the Naval Brigade, and the wounded in the hospital. Some 2000 camels were knee-lashed outside and all round the larger zeriba, forming a valuable breastwork.

All we could do was to work our guns. As the square went on, the enemy, moving in large masses, shifted their position, and as they moved, we dropped shells among them. We judged their numbers to be greater than at Abu Klea. Would the square of only 900 men ever get through? If ever a little British army looked like walking to certain death, it was that thin square of infantry.

Presently it disappeared from view. Soon afterwards we heard the steady roll of volley firing, and we knew that the enemy were charging the square. Then, silence. Whether the enemy had been driven back, or the square annihilated, we did not know. What we did know was that if the square had been defeated, the zeriba would very soon be attacked in overwhelming force. But as the moments passed the strain of suspense slackened; for, as the fire of the enemy directed upon the zeriba diminished and soon ceased altogether, the presumption was that the square had been victorious and had got through to the river.

What had happened was that the Arabs, charging downhill {277} at the left front angle of the square, had been met by concentrated rifle fire, our men aiming low at a range of 400 yards, steady as on parade. Once more the British soldier proved that no troops in the world can face his musketry. The front ranks of the charging thousands were lying dead in heaps; the rear ranks fled over the hills; and the square went on, unmolested, very slowly, because the men were tired out, and so came to the river.

Count Gleichen, who marched with the square, recounting his experiences (in his With the Camel Corps up the Nile), writes: "Soon in the growing dusk a silver streak was visible here and there in amongst the green belt, but it was still a couple of miles off.... Our pace could not exceed a slow march. The sun went down, and the twilight became almost darkness; ... a two-days-old crescent was shining in the sky, and its feeble light guided us through the gravel hills right to the brink of the Nile. The men were as wild with joy as their exhausted condition would allow. The wounded were held up for one look at the gleaming river, and then hurried to the banks. Still, perfect discipline was observed. Not a man left his place in the ranks until his company was marched up to take its fill.... A chain of sentries was established on the slopes overlooking the square, and in two minutes the force was fast asleep." Sir Charles Wilson (From Korti to Khartoum) adds: "The men were so exhausted that when they came up from their drink at the river they fell down like logs...."

They had been marching and fighting for four days and three nights without sleep, and with very little food and water, and had lost a tenth of their number. That night we in the zeriba also slept. I remember very little about it, except that Lieutenant Charles Crutchley, Adjutant of the Guards' Camel Regiment, woke me twice and asked me for water. He made no complaint of any kind, and I did not know that he had been hit early in the day and that he had a bullet in his leg. General Crutchley, who was so kind as to {278} write to me in reply to my request that he would tell me what he remembers of the affair, says: "I remember lying on a stretcher that night, and people knocking against my leg, and that my revolver was stolen, I believe by one of the camel boys." Crutchley was carried down to the river by my bluejackets next day, and was taken into hospital. As I remember the occasion, he left the decision as to whether or not his leg should be amputated, to me. At any rate, the surgeon had no doubt as to the necessity of the operation, at which I was present. With his finger he flicked out of the wound pieces of bone like splinters of bamboo. The leg was buried, and was afterwards exhumed in order to extract the bullet from it. I think I remember that Crutchley, seeing it being carried across to the hospital, asked whose leg it was. He was carried upon a litter back to Korti, and the shaking of that terrible march made necessary a second operation, which was successful.

Sir Charles Wilson's force, having bivouacked that night beside the Nile, were up at daybreak; took possession of the empty village of mud huts, called Abu Kru, but always known as Gubat, which stood on the gravel ridge sloping to the Nile, 780 yards from the river; and placed the wounded in Gubat under a guard. The force then returned to our zeriba.

When we saw that gallant little array come marching over the distant hill-top, and through the scrub towards us, we cheered again and again. Hearty were our greetings. Our comrades, who had marched without breakfast, were speedily provided with a plentiful meal of bully-beef and tea.

Then we all set to work to dismantle the zeriba, to collect the stores of which it was constructed and to sort them out, to mend the broken saddles, and load up the wretched camels, who had been knee-lashed and unable to move for twenty-four hours. About a hundred camels were dead, having been shot as they lay. As there were not enough camels to carry all the stores, a part of these were {279} left under an increased garrison inside the redoubt upon the knoll in rear of the zeriba, Major T. Davison in command.

At midday we buried the dead, over whom I read the service, Sir Charles Wilson being present as chief mourner.

The last of the wounded to be moved was Sir Herbert Stewart, so that he should be spared as much discomfort as possible. He was doing fairly well, and we then hoped that he would recover.

Before sunset we were all safely lodged in Gubat. The Desert Column had reached the river at last. It was the 20th January; we had left Korti on the 8th. In the course of that 176 miles we had gone through perhaps as sharp a trial as British troops have endured.

At the fight of Abu Klea, nine officers and 65 non-commissioned officers and men were killed, and nine officers and 85 non-commissioned officers and men were wounded. On the 19th January, between the wells of Abu Klea and the river, one officer and 22 non-commissioned officers and men were killed, and eight officers and 90 non-commissioned officers and men were wounded. The general, Sir Herbert Stewart, had received a wound which was to prove mortal. All the officers of the Naval Brigade, except Mr. James Webber, boatswain, and Sub-Lieutenant Munro, who was wounded, and myself, had been killed. The losses were roughly one-tenth of the total number of the Column. The camels which survived had been on one-third rations and without water for a week. They were hardly able to walk; ulcerating sores pitted their bodies; their ribs actually came through their skin. Count Gleichen says that his camel drank from the Nile for 14 minutes without stopping; and that subsequently the poor beast's ribs took a fine polish from the rubbing of the saddle. The horses of the Hussars had been 58 hours, and many of them 72 hours, without water. I cannot mention the Hussars without paying a tribute to the admirable scouting work they did under Lieutenant-Colonel Barrow during the whole march, up to the time the last zeriba was formed, when the gallant little horses were dead beat. {280} The present field-marshal, Sir John French, did splendid service with the Hussars throughout the campaign.

When we came into Gubat I was painfully, though not seriously, ill. The galling of the makeshift saddle during my three days' ride across the desert from Dal to Abu Fatmeh on my way to Korti, had developed into a horrid carbuncle; and I was unable to walk without help.


THE SOUDAN WAR (Continued)


"Comrades, who with us side by side,
    Did in the brunt of battle stand,
Are absent now, their manly forms
    Lie mouldering in the desert sand."
Songs of the Camel Corps (Sergeant H. EAGLE, R.M.C.C.)

On 21st January, the day after the main body of the Desert Column had come to Gubat, an attack was made upon Metemmeh, which resolved itself into a reconnaissance in force. Lord Wolseley's instructions to Sir Herbert Stewart were "to advance on Metemmeh, which you will attack and occupy." These instructions Sir Charles Wilson, upon whom the command had devolved, determined to carry into execution, although there was a doubt whether under the circumstances the attempt would be justified. Metemmeh was a walled town of considerable strength, lying two miles down the river from the encampment. Between the encampment and the town rose low ridges, in whose folds clustered the huts of deserted villages.

The Naval Brigade joined in the attack; and as I was out of action, Mr. Webber, boatswain, was in command, and did admirably well.

While Sir Charles Wilson's force was firing upon the town, whence the enemy briskly replied, Gordon's four steamers arrived. His black troops instantly landed with guns, and joyfully bombarded the mud walls; while Sir {282} Charles Wilson conferred with Khashm-el-Mus Bey, Malik (King) of the Shagiyeh tribe, and Abd-el-Hamid Bey, a young Arab greatly trusted by Gordon, who were in command of the steamers. Abd el Hamid subsequently deserted, and was, I think, shot by the Mahdi. Khashm-el-Mus having reported that a large force was on its way down from Khartoum under Feki Mustapha, Sir Charles Wilson decided that he ought not to incur the further loss of men involved in the capture of Metemmeh. He therefore withdrew from Metemmeh, and returned to Gubat, destroying the three intervening villages on the way.

During the reconnaissance of Metemmeh, Major William H. Poe, of the Royal Marines, was severely wounded in the leg. He insisted upon wearing a red coat, saying that his other coat was not fit to be seen; and he made a conspicuous target. His leg was amputated, and he eventually recovered; and he rides to hounds to this day.

In view of the approach of the enemy, the wounded were brought from the fort on the ridge to an entrenched camp on the river; and opposite to it, upon Gubat Island, a breastwork was constructed, and was occupied by some of Gordon's Soudanese who had come in the steamers. Major T. Davison's outlying detachment, with the remaining stores, was brought in.

It was now necessary very carefully to consider the situation. Sir Charles Wilson read the letters dispatched by Gordon and brought in one of the steamers, the Bordein, which had left Khartoum on 14th December. Sir Charles gave me these letters to read. In a letter addressed to the Officer Commanding H.M. Troops, Gordon requested that "all Egyptian officers and soldiers" be taken out of the steamer. "I make you a present of these hens," he wrote, "and I request you will not let one come back here to me." In another letter, addressed to Major Watson (colonel in the Egyptian Army), dated 14th December, Gordon wrote that he expected a crisis to arrive about Christmas; and implied that he had abandoned hope of relief.


It was now nearly a month after Christmas, and Khartoum was still holding out. But it was no longer possible to carry into execution Lord Wolseley's original intention: that Sir Herbert Stewart should capture and occupy Metemmeh; that I should man Gordon's four steamers with the Naval Brigade and should take Sir Charles Wilson with a detachment of infantry up to Khartoum. Now, Sir Herbert Stewart was incapacitated by his wound; it was not considered practicable to take Metemmeh; all the officers of the Naval Brigade were killed or wounded except Mr. Webber; and I myself was so ill as to be unable to get about without help. Moreover, the weakened Desert Column, including more than a hundred wounded, would in all likelihood shortly be attacked by a greatly superior force.

Two main provisions of the original plan, however, had been fulfilled. The Column had reached the river; and Gordon's steamers had joined the Column. And it was then supposed that Wolseley was marching across the Bayuda Desert with reinforcements.

Sir Charles Wilson determined to go to Khartoum (a decision in which I strongly supported him), provided that he could make reasonably sure that the force to be left behind was not in immediate danger of attack. He reckoned that the news of the defeat of the Mahdi's forces at Abu Klea would have served both to inspirit the garrison at Khartoum, and, owing to the dispatch of a number of the enemy to meet us, to relieve them in some measure. And after examining the commanders of the steamers on the point, he was satisfied that the delay of two days spent in reconnoitring, would not be material; a conclusion which was not shared by Khashm-el-Mus, who was eager to go to Khartoum.

Accordingly, on 22nd January, Sir Charles Wilson took three steamers down stream to reconnoitre. The four boats sent down by Gordon were: the Bordein, under Abd-el-Hamid; Talahawiyeh, under Nusri Pasha; Safieh, under Mahmoud Bey; and Tewfikiyeh, under Khashm-el-Mus. {284} Sir Herbert Stewart was moved on board the Tewfikiyeh, a small boat, which was employed as a ferry between Gubat Island and the mainland. I went with Sir Charles Wilson in the Talahawiyeh. I was not of much use, as I had to be helped on board, and was obliged to lie down in the cabin. In the same steamer were Major Phipps and two companies of Mounted Infantry. Old Khashm-el-Mus was made commandant of the boat instead of Nusri Pasha. In the Bordein were Captain Verner, Abd-el-Hamid, and native soldiers. The Safieh had her own crew and captain.

These vessels, about the size and build of the old penny steamboats on the Thames, had been ingeniously protected and armed by poor Colonel Stewart, he who was treacherously murdered on 18th September, 1884, after the wreck of his steamer Abbas at Hebbeh. (It will be remembered that Colonel Stewart was sent by Gordon, with a party of refugees, to communicate in person with the authorities in Egypt.) In the bows was a small turret constructed of baulks of timber, and containing a 9-pr. brass howitzer (canon rayé) to fire ahead; amidships, between the paddle-boxes, was the central turret, also built of timber, and mounting a gun to fire over the paddle-boxes. Astern, on the roof of the deckhouse, was an enclosure of boiler-plate, protecting the wheel and giving shelter to riflemen. The sides and bulwarks were covered with boiler-plate, above which was fixed a rail of thick timber, leaving a space through which to fire. The boiler, which projected above the deck, was jacketed with logs of wood. The improvised armour of wood and iron would stop a bullet, but was pervious by shell.

The ships' companies were an interesting example of river piracy. The steamers had been cruising up and down the Nile since October, a period of four months, during which the crews lived on the country, raiding and fighting. Everything was filthy and neglected except the engines. The forehold was crammed with ammunition, dhura {285} grain, wool, fuel, and miscellaneous loot. The main-hold was inhabited by women, babies, stowaways, wounded men, goats, amid a confusion of ammunition, sacks of grain, wood fuel, bedding and loot. The after-hold held the possessions, including loot, of the commandant. Below the forward turret slave-girls ceased not from cooking dhura-cakes. Rats swarmed everywhere; the whole ship exhaled a most appalling stench; and the ship's company shouted and screamed all day long.

First there was the commandant, who was theoretically in chief command of the ship, and who commanded the soldiers on shore; then there was the officer commanding the regular soldiers, Soudanese. He was black, and so were his men, who were freed slaves. The officer commanding the Artillery was an Egyptian. The Bashi-Bazouk contingent was composed of Shagiyehs—who were of the tribe ruled by Khashm-el-Mus—of black slaves, and of half-castes. Their officers were Turks, Kurds, and Circassians. The captain of the ship was a Dongolese, and his sailors were blacks. Under the captain were numerous petty officers, such as the chief of the sailors, the chief of the carpenters, and so forth. The chief engineer and his staff were Egyptians. The Reis (pilot) and his assistants were Dongolese.

Into this wild medley, in the Talahawiyeh, Sir Charles Wilson brought a company of Mounted Infantry; and thus reinforced, we steamed down river; while I lay in the cabin, in a good deal of pain, and chatted to Khashm-el-Mus, who became a great friend of mine. He was a short, grey-bearded, dignified man of middle age, owning great power over his own people. He remained loyal to Gordon under very trying conditions, and he stuck by us to the last.

Near Shendi, one of Khashm-el-Mus's men came on board and reported that the force advancing from Berber had met the fugitives from Abu Klea and had come no farther. Another Shagiyeh gave the same information. The people of Shendi fired on the steamers, which replied {286} with ten rounds of shell from each gun. We then went about and returned to Gubat. At my request, Sir Charles Wilson conferred upon Mr. Ingram, of The Illustrated London News, the rank of acting-lieutenant in the Royal Navy. Ingram had been of the greatest service. He had brought his own launch up from Korti, volunteered to the Desert Column, and fought gallantly at Abu Klea and at the reconnaissance of Metemmeh. As all the naval officers had been killed or wounded, and I was comparatively helpless, I was delighted to secure Mr. Ingram, who was exceedingly useful.

His subsequent history was remarkable. He was killed while hunting big game in Africa, and was buried upon an island which was afterwards washed away. The story goes that the manner of his death and the bearing away by a flood of his remains, were the fulfilment of a curse, which fell upon him when, in spite of warnings, he purchased a certain Egyptian mummy.

Sir Charles Wilson, being assured that no attack was intended from the direction of Berber, began immediately to prepare for his expedition to Khartoum. Most unfortunately, I was compelled to retire into hospital; but I was able to issue instructions which I hope were of use. At Sir Charles Wilson's request, I advised him to take the two larger and better protected steamers, Bordein and Talahawiyeh.

The work of preparing them began next morning, 23rd January. The first thing to be done was to sort out from their crews the Egyptians, Turks, Kurds, Circassians, the "hens" whom Gordon had refused to have again in Khartoum, and to man the two vessels with Soudanese sailors and soldiers. Captain Gascoigne and Lieutenant Stuart-Wortley toiled at this tiresome job nearly all day.

At my suggestion, the people removed from the steamers were placed in a camp by themselves up stream, on the Khartoum side of Gubat; so that in the event of a force advancing from Khartoum, and the consequent revolt {287} of the "hens," we should not be placed between two fires. The military objection was that they would foul the water; which was obviated by my building wooden piers projecting into the stream.

An engine-room artificer from the Naval Brigade was sent on board each steamer, in which they went to work to repair defects. Wood for the steamers was obtained by cutting up the sakiehs, or water-wheels, up and down the river, a slow process as performed by natives receiving orders through interpreters. Khashm-el-Mus was placed in command of the Bordein, and Abd-el-Hamid of the Talakawiyeh. Sir Charles Wilson was to go in the Bordein, together with Captain Gascoigne, 10 non-commissioned officers and men of the Royal Sussex, one petty officer and one artificer Naval Brigade, and no Soudanese soldiers. In the Talahawiyeh were Captain L. J. Trafford, in command of 10 non-commissioned officers and men of the Royal Sussex, one of whom was a signaller, one engine-room artificer Naval Brigade, and some 80 Soudanese soldiers. The Talahawiyeh towed a nuggar carrying about 50 Soudanese soldiers and a cargo of grain for Khartoum. According to Gordon's express desire, the British troops were clad in red tunics, which, being borrowed from the Guards and the Heavy Camel Regiment, were far from being a regimental fit.

By the time the preparations were complete, it was too late to start that night, and the Royal Sussex, folded in their red tunics, bivouacked on the bank.

During the day, the entrenchments upon the hillside and by the river were strengthened; and the same evening a convoy and an escort under the command of Colonel Talbot started for Jakdul to fetch stores. Captain C. B. Piggot, the man who knew not fear, carrying dispatches to Korti, accompanied them.

It should be borne in mind that the chief object of the expedition to Khartoum, apart from the necessity of communicating with Gordon himself, was to produce a moral {288} effect upon the Mahdists; Gordon's idea being that the presence of a small force of British soldiers would inevitably convince the native that powerful reinforcements might be expected immediately. In the journal of Sir Charles Wilson (From Korti to Khartoum) he makes the following comment:

"The original plan was for Beresford to man two of the steamers with the Naval Brigade, mount his Gardner gun on one of them, and after overhauling them, take me to Khartoum with about fifty men of the Sussex Regiment. This was now impossible: all the naval officers were killed or wounded except Beresford, who was himself unable to walk, and many of the best petty officers and seamen were also gone. Beresford offered to accompany me; but he had done himself no good by going down the river the day before, and there was every prospect of his getting worse before he was better. Besides, I felt I could not deprive the force of its only naval officer, when it was quite possible the steamers left behind might have to take part in a fight."

That possibility was fulfilled. In the event, if I may say so, it was lucky that I was there.

At eight o'clock on the morning of the 24th January, the two steamers started, flying the Egyptian flag, the slave-girls frying dhura-cake under the fore turret, old Khashm-el-Mus smoking and drinking coffee on the cabin sofa, both vessels crammed with yelling and joyous savages, among whom were a bare score of British soldiers. They must pass powerful batteries, a single shot from which would sink them, and dangerous cataracts sown with rocks, and finally the guns of Omdurman, which was now in possession of the enemy. And having survived these perils, they might be unable to return, for the river was rapidly falling. Slowly they steamed away against the strong stream, and vanished; and for seven days we waited for news of that desperate enterprise.


In Sir Charles Wilson's absence, the military command devolved upon Colonel Boscawen, and after a few days, Colonel Boscawen being ill with fever, upon Colonel Mildmay Willson of the Scots Guards. The actual senior officer was myself. I issued a proclamation to the natives.


"To the people of the river districts.

"This is to make it known to you that we are the advanced portion of the two great English armies which are now marching on Khartoum to punish the rebels.

"We do not wish to do you any harm if you will come to see us. You will receive no hurt; and we will pay you for your cattle and crops.

"If, however, you do not tender your submission, we will punish you severely. Your cattle will be taken, your villages and sakiehs burnt, and you yourselves will be killed, even as those unfortunates who ventured to oppose us at Abu Klea and Metemmeh.

"Any person desirous of speaking with the English general should carry a white flag, and come by the river bank alone. He will not be detained, and he will be guarded from all danger.

        "The SIRDAR
"Advanced Guard, English Army"

I was in hospital for only two days. The surgeon's knife relieved my pain, and I was speedily healed. On the 26th January, and the following day, I took the Safieh down to Metemmeh and shelled that place, covering the advance of a foraging party. There were daily expeditions both by the river in the steamer, and by land, to get goats and cattle, vegetables for the sick, and green-stuff for the camels, which had already eaten up all the vegetation about the camp. We weighed anchor daily at 6 a.m., taking a party of twenty picked shots from one of the regiments. Small {290} parties of riflemen used to fire at us from the left bank, but we had no casualties.

All the villages in the neighbourhood were deserted; but there was nothing to be taken from them except a few beans and lentils, and the native wooden bedsteads. A good deal of long-range sniping went on, but no one was the worse for it.

The British sailors and soldiers had trouble with the native bulls, which, docile enough with natives, resisted capture by white men. Nusri Pasha, the Egyptian, who had come down in command of the Talahawiyeh, was standing on the deck of the Safieh, watching my men trying to compel a recalcitrant bull down the bank.

"Let me try," said Nusri Pasha. "He'll obey me. You see."

And he crossed the plank to the shore, and went up to the angry bull. No sooner did the Pasha lay hand on the rope, than the bull charged, caught the unhappy Egyptian between his horns, carried him headlong down the slope and into the water, and fetched up against the steamer with his horns fixed in the sponson, while Nusri disappeared into the river, the beholders yelling with laughter. The Pasha was fished out, chastened but not much the worse for his extraordinary escape. Had he been impaled upon the horns, there would have been no more Nusri, tamer of bulls.

Every night the tom-toms beat in Metemmeh; and on the 28th, there was a great noise of firing, which we supposed to be the celebration of a religious festival. Alas, it was something else.

On 31st January, Colonel Talbot returned from Jakdul with a large convoy of supplies. He was accompanied by the second division of the Naval Brigade, which, it may be remembered, had not arrived at Korti when the Desert Column left that place. With the Naval Brigade came Lieutenant E. B. van Koughnet, in command, Sub-Lieutenant Colin R. Keppel (son of my old friend Sir Harry {291} Keppel), Surgeon Arthur William May (now Surgeon-General Sir A. W. May, C.B.), and Chief Engineer Henry Benbow (now Sir Henry Benbow, K.C.B., D.S.O.). Never was reinforcement more timely; and it was with inexpressible pleasure that I greeted my shipmates. Once more I had officers; in the meantime, I had put the Safieh into fighting trim; and now we were ready for emergency. It came.

Every night I used to haul off the Safieh into the stream; and I slept on deck. Very early in the morning of the 1st February, I was awakened by a voice hailing the Safieh. I ran to the rail, and there, in the first light of the dawn, was a boat, and Stuart-Wortley's face was lifted to mine. He climbed aboard.

"Gordon is killed and Khartoum has fallen," he said. Then Stuart-Wortley told me how Sir Charles Wilson's two steamers were wrecked, how his force was isolated up the river, and how the Mahdi might be marching down with his whole triumphant horde armed with all the guns and rifles of the fallen city.

"Then the soldiers had better run up more wire entanglements and earthworks as quick as they can. And I wish to God I had those two steamers!" I said.

I told Stuart-Wortley I would at once proceed to the rescue of Sir Charles Wilson's party, and sent him on shore to tell the news to Colonel Boscawen.

How the tidings came to the camp, is related by Lieutenant Douglas Dawson, who recorded in his diary how one "drew his curtains in the dead of night and told him" ... (The diary was published in The Nineteenth Century for November, 1885. I quote from the copy kindly lent to me by the author):

"February 1st. No member of our small force as long as he lives will ever forget this morning. Just at dawn I was woke by someone outside our hut calling for Boscawen. I jumped up and went out to see who it was, and then made {292} out to my surprise Stuart-Wortley, whom we all thought at Khartoum.

"I looked towards the river, expecting in the faint light to see the steamers, then seeing nothing, and observing by his face that there was something wrong, I said, 'Why, good heavens! where are the steamers, what is the news?' He said, 'The very worst.'"

The full story of a very gallant exploit, Sir Charles Wilson's daring voyage to Khartoum, has been modestly and clearly told in his book, From Korti to Khartoum. The Bordein and the Talahawiyeh towing the nuggar, came to the Shabloka Cataract upon the day (25th January) after they had started. Here the Bordein stuck; and having been got off after many hours' work, she ran aground again off Hassan Island next day, during which the expedition advanced only three miles. On the afternoon of the 27th, a man appearing on the left bank cried that Khartoum had fallen and Gordon was slain. No one believed him, because the air was full of false rumours. The next day, 28th, in the morning, a man on the right bank cried that Khartoum had fallen and that Gordon had been killed, two days before. No one believed him. But it was true. It was on that night that we in Gubat heard the guns firing in Metemmeh.

By this time, those in the steamers could catch a far glimpse of the roofs and minarets of Khartoum pencilled upon the blue above the trees of Tuti Island; and at the same time, a heavy fire was opened from the battery of Fighiaiha on their right hand. Then they came to Halfiyeh, where a battery of four guns fired upon them, on their left hand. The naked black men in the steamers served their guns with a furious zeal, while the British infantry fired steadily, and so through the smoke the red flags went on, safely past the point of the long island that ends opposite to Halfiyeh, the Soudanese ecstatically shrieking defiance and brandishing their rifles. At Halfiyeh were boats lying, and Khashm-el-Mus said to Sir Charles Wilson, "Gordon's troops must be there, as the Mahdi has no boats."


Then, from the Bordein, which was leading, they could see Government House in Khartoum plain above the trees, but there was no flag flying from its roof. As they passed between the island on their left hand and the mainland on the right, two more guns opened, and there began a heavy rifle-fire from both sides which continued for the rest of the way. Tuti Island, the upper end of which faces Khartoum, and about which on either side the Blue Nile stretches an arm to join the White Nile, was lined with riflemen firing over a dyke. At first Sir Charles thought them to be Gordon's men, and took the steamer nearer in, when the fire increased. So, writes Sir Charles, "we went on, old Khashm protesting it was all up, and predicting terrible disaster to ourselves. No sooner did we start upwards than we got into such a fire as I hope never to pass through again in a 'penny steamer.' Two or more guns opened upon us from Omdurman fort, and three or four from Khartoum or the upper end of Tuti; the roll of musketry from each side was continuous; and high above that could be heard the grunting of a Nordenfelt or a mitrailleuse, and the loud rushing noise of the Krupp shells..."

They rounded the curve of the island, and there beyond the space of rushing water torn with shot, and the flash and smoke of bursting shells, Khartoum rose into full sight; and there, ranged on the sandy shore beneath the walls, the Mahdi's banners fluttered above the massed ranks of the dervishes.

All was done. Sir Charles Wilson had fought his way to the end, determined to go on till he was certain of the fate of the city. Then he knew; then, and not until then, did he give the order to go about.

At the word, as he relates, the Soudanese, who had lost all they had in the world, were stricken mute and impotent. Poor old Khashm-el-Mus wrapped his mantle about his head, crouching in a corner. They ran down stream through the fire, the Soudanese bravely returning it, the British infantry steady as ever, and won clear. During four hours they had {294} been under fire. They ran down some 30 miles, and moored for the night.

The next day, 29th January, the Talahawiyeh struck on a rock in the Shabloka Cataract, and must be abandoned. The British were transhipped to the Bordein, the natives bivouacked on an island. Next day the natives were sent on ahead in the nuggar, hitherto towed by the Talahawiyeh, and the Bordein followed. The day after, 31st January, during the afternoon, the Bordein struck a rock, began to fill, and was run on shore upon a small island close to the large Mernat Island. When the accident occurred, Sir Charles Wilson was just preparing to run at full speed past the fort and battery of Wad Habeshi, which lay on the left hand some three and a half miles lower down. Mernat Island lies about 35 miles above Gubat by land, and nearly 40 by river.

Sir Charles Wilson landed guns, ammunition and stores. At first he intended to make a night march down on the right bank; but he changed his plan and decided to remain where he was for the night.

Lieutenant Stuart-Wortley was dispatched to carry the news to Gubat in one of the two small boats, a felucca. He left at 6.45 p.m., taking a crew of four English soldiers and eight natives. They were fired at and missed by the Wad Habeshi fort; and working splendidly, traversed the 40 miles in a little over eight hours, arriving at Gubat, as already related, at 3 a.m. on the morning of 1st February. Stuart-Wortley and his men faced death every mile of the way; and their voyage deserves to be remembered as a bold, determined and gallant achievement.


THE SOUDAN WAR (Continued)


"And while lying near Metemmeh
    He went—many a time you know—
Up the river in his steamer,
    Dealing havoc on the foe;
And each gallant tar and Jollie
    That was with him, fighting there,
Now would follow without question,
    Let him lead them, anywhere."
Songs of the Camel Corps (Sergeant H. EAGLE, R.M.C.C.)

[The men used to sing 'Our Navy on the Nile,' of which the above is an excerpt; but the rest is so complimentary to the author, that he is obliged to omit it.]

At two o'clock in the afternoon of the 1st February the Safieh left Gubat to proceed to the rescue of Sir Charles Wilson's force. From the time the news arrived until we started, we were occupied in getting wood and stores. With me were Lieutenant E. B. van Koughnet, Sub-Lieutenant Colin R. Keppel, Surgeon Arthur William May, Chief Engineer Henry Benbow, Acting-Lieutenant Walter Ingram, Mr. Webber, boatswain, all of the Royal Navy, Lieutenant R. L. Bower, King's Royal Rifle Corps, and Lieutenant Stuart-Wortley, who had brought the news of the disaster. The vessel was manned by picked men from both divisions of the Naval Brigade, and carried twenty non-commissioned officers and men, picked shots, of the Mounted Infantry, under the command of Lieutenant {296} R. L. Bower. The engine-room staff consisted of Chief Engineer Benbow; two engine-room artificers, Royal Navy, J. T. Garland and G. Woodman; and one chief stoker, Royal Navy; an Arab or Egyptian engineer, and six Soudanese stokers. We mounted the two Gardner guns in echelon on the platform made of railway sleepers and boiler-plate amidships, and one of the two brass 4-pr. mountain guns was placed in the turret forward, the other in the turret aft, both turrets being built of railway sleepers and boiler-plate, with which defences the ship had been cased above water. The Reis (native pilot) was stationed inside the barricade protecting the wheel, to guide the helmsman, who was a bluejacket. The native boats always carry two Reises, one to look out, the other to steer. Our Reis was mounted upon a box so that he could see over the barricade. In order to guard against the kind of accident which had befallen Sir Charles Wilson's steamers, I informed him that if he took us safely up and down he would be rewarded, but that upon any indication of treachery he would be shot at once. He was then handcuffed to a stanchion, and Quartermaster Olden, with a loaded revolver, was placed at his side. Surgeon-General A. W. May, who very kindly sent me his recollections of the trip, writes: "A quartermaster with the nickname of 'Punch' was told off to look after him, and he stood as grim as death at his side, revolver in hand, quite ready at the slightest sign of treachery to carry out his orders ... I always attribute our getting up and down when the river was low and dangerous to your wise warning of the pilot."

The Safieh was simply a penny steamer in a packing-case. Where the packing-case was deficient, bullets went through her as through paper, and a shell would pierce her wooden jacket. The pinch would come when we sighted the fort at Wad Habeshi, which lay on our right hand, between us and Mernat Island, where was Sir Charles Wilson's party, and which was some 36 miles up stream from Gubat.

On 1st February we shoved along at the rate of 2.5 {297} miles an hour, the most the Safieh could do against the current, stopped to get wood, and anchored in the stream during the night. It was impossible to navigate in the dark. The next day was almost entirely occupied in collecting wood, which was laboriously obtained by dismantling and cutting up the sakiehs, native water-wheels. That evening we arrived within three or four miles of Wad Habeshi, and again anchored for the night. After weighing next morning, I assembled the ship's company and briefly addressed them. I told them that we were in a tight place, but that we would get out of it; that if we failed to rescue Sir Charles Wilson, the Mahdi's men would get them and would then come down upon Gubat; but that we would save Wilson's party. The men were as cheery and steady as possible.

At 7 a.m. we sighted Wad Habeshi on the starboard hand; and we saw, far up the river, the trees of Mernat Island, and the tilted hull and funnel of the stranded Bordein.

By 7.30 a.m. we were within 1200 yards of the fort, and I opened fire with the bow gun. Wad Habeshi was a strong earthwork, with four embrasures, mounting four guns, and manned, according to Stuart-Wortley's report, by 5000 riflemen. The only practicable channel ran within 80 yards of the fort. We could only crawl past the battery, and as we were defenceless against gun-fire, our only chance was to maintain so overwhelming a fire upon the embrasures as to demoralise the guns' crews. It was an extreme instance of the principle that the best defence resides in gun-fire rather than in armour; for we had no effective armour.

Accordingly, the starboard Gardner and the two brass guns, the 20 soldiers and 14 bluejackets, poured a steady and an accurate fire into the fort, disregarding the parties of riflemen who were shooting at us from the bank. There were some 600 or 800 of these, and one gun opened fire from the side embrasure of the fort. Poor von Koughnet was shot in the leg, and second-class petty officer Edwin Curnow, number two of the crew of the starboard Gardner, fell mortally wounded, and died that evening. But so {298} deadly was the fire we poured into the embrasures of the fort, that the enemy could not fire the two guns bearing upon the Safieh while she was bore abeam of them. We passed the fort, and by the time we had left it about 200 yards astern, our fire necessarily slackened, as our guns no longer bore upon the battery.

Suddenly a great cloud of steam or smoke rose from the after hatchway. Instantly the fire of the enemy increased. Chief Engineer Benbow, who was standing with-me on the quarter-deck, ran to the engine-room. A Maltese carpenter rushed up to me crying, "All is lost, sare, myself and my brother, sare! The ship he sink, sare!" and was promptly kicked out of the way.

I saw the black stokers rushing up from the stoke-hold hatchway. At the moment it was uncertain whether the ship was on fire or the boiler injured; but as she still had way upon her I ordered her to be headed towards the bank, away from the fort, and so gained another few yards. The carpenter's mate reported that there were three feet of water in the well, and that the vessel was sinking.

Then she stopped. In the meantime our fire upon the side embrasure of the fort was continued by the riflemen; and it went on without pause, lest the enemy should get another shot in. I dropped anchor, and addressed the men. I told them that the vessel was all right, as she had only a foot of water under her bottom; that the stores and ammunition must be got up on deck in case she settled down; that no relief was possible; but that not a single dervish would come on board while one of us was alive.

The men were quite cool and jovial.

"It's all right, sir," said one cheerfully. "We'll make it 'ot for the beggars!"

Mr. Benbow, chief engineer, came to me and reported that the water must have come from the boiler, because it was hot; and that, as the shot which had pierced the boiler had entered above the water-line, the vessel was safe. I then {299} countermanded the order to bring up the ammunition and stores.

In the meantime the two engine-room artificers, Garland and Woodman, had been carried up from the engine-room, so terribly scalded that the flesh of their hands, forearms and faces was hanging in strips, like the flesh of a boiled chicken. They had been stationed by Mr. Benbow between the boiler and the ship's side, with orders to insert shot-plugs if the side was pierced; and in that position were farther from the exit than the Soudanese stokers, and therefore were more severely injured. The stokers were badly scalded, two days afterwards, an odour as of the grave pervading the upper deck, a search discovered a black stoker under the fortified superstructure. He was hauled out with a boat-hook, and was then still alive, although his flesh was peeling from his bones. He had resigned himself to die, as Asiatics will; and he died.

Considering the situation, I thought that upon the Safieh probably depended not only the fate of Sir Charles Wilson's party, who were isolated in a hostile country between the strong force at Wad Habeshi and the Mahdi's host marching down from Khartoum, and who could not even rely upon the native soldiers with them, but the fate of the whole Desert Column; because if we failed to bring away Wilson, and his party were captured or slain, the enemy would be encouraged to descend upon the Desert Column at Gubat. I was, of course, at that moment ignorant of the movements of the Mahdi's army; and could only conjecture that they were even then marching upon us. As a matter of fact, they were; but the exact sequence of events did not become known for a long time afterwards.

I asked Mr. Benbow if he could repair the boiler.

He replied, "I think I can do it."

He added that it was still too hot to examine. The time was then between nine and ten a.m. Mr. Benbow, assisted by the leading stoker R.N., who had been stationed on deck as stretcher-bearer, drew the fires and pumped out the boiler, {300} when he found a hole some three inches in diameter, round which the plate had bulged inwards, its edges being torn and jagged.

By the time the examination was completed, it was about eleven o'clock. Mr. Benbow then set to work to make a new plate with his own hands. He had brought with him from the depot at Wady Halfa some engineer's stores: a piece of sheet-iron, and some bolts and nuts; part of the equipment I had brought from Korti, when General Buller asked me if I was going to mend camels with them. I remembered his chaff in that hour.

Mr. Benbow, with no other assistance than that of the leading stoker, had to cut a plate, 16 inches by 14, drill the holes in it to receive the bolts, drill holes in the injured boiler plate corresponding to the first to a fraction, and cut the threads of the screws upon bolts and nuts. The new plate being too thin to take the pressure, he also had to bolt an iron bar across it, drilling the holes through the bar, through the new plate, and through the injured boiler plate.

During the whole time he was below in the stifling hot engine-room at work upon a task demanding at once great exertion and the utmost nicety, the fire from the fort never ceased. Bullets pattered continually upon the hull, some of them piercing it, and striking the wounded men who lay below. At any moment another shell might burst into the engine-room. But Mr. Benbow went on with his work.

On deck, we continued to maintain a steady fire, hour after hour, upon the fort. It was our only chance. The slightest cessation, and they would bring their gun to bear on us. The range was between 200 and 300 yards. As we hung at anchor, the fort bore almost directly astern. It was therefore necessary to alter the position of our guns. A rough platform was built aft, upon which one of the Gardners was mounted, and where it was admirably served all day by Acting-Lieutenant Walter Ingram. Lieutenant Colin Keppel, in order to have room inside the narrow wood-protected casemate astern to train his brass howitzer, sawed off its {301} trail. The result was that after each discharge the gun leaped into the air and fell upon its back. After laying the gun, and before firing, Keppel removed the sight to prevent its being injured, and put it in his pocket. Keppel and Mr. James Webber served the gun all day, firing 150 rounds. The casemate itself was strengthened to take the shock of the gun by buttressing it with a stout strut of timber. At every discharge the whole crazy vessel shook and trembled; her plates started; and her bows opened. The fire from the Gardner and the rifle-fire, directed upon the side embrasure of the fort, were so accurate and incessant that the gunners of the enemy never had a chance, either to get their gun to bear or to remove it to another position. The few shots they fired travelled about 100 yards to the right of the steamer.

Meantime, Mr. Benbow, down below, went on with his work.

The noise of the engagement was so deafening and continuous that we did not hear the three shots fired upon Mernat Island, the signal arranged by Sir Charles Wilson with Stuart-Wortley to show that the party was safe; and we were so busy that we did not see the flags hoisted upon the wreck of the Bordein with the same object. At that time Sir Charles Wilson's party were themselves engaged with the enemy, who were firing upon them from the bank. Sir Charles Wilson was able to make out that the Safieh was at anchor and was heavily engaged. He then thought that we had the two steamers, the Tewfikiyeh as well as the Safieh, that one had been injured, and that the Safieh was covering her from the fire of the fort. He immediately broke up his zeriba, embarked the wounded, some of the natives, the guns, ammunition and stores, and a small guard of the Royal Sussex, in the nuggar, and sent it down stream under the command of Captain Gascoigne. The embarkation was carried into execution under fire. Sir Charles then landed the rest of his force on the right bank (Wad Habeshi and the enemy were on the left bank) in his remaining small {302} boat, a felucca. The whole party then marched down the right bank to a point opposite to the Safieh, Captain Gascoigne taking down the nuggar and the felucca. "As we got nearer," writes Sir Charles, "we could make out the white ensign flying bravely in the breeze, a pleasant sight for hard-pressed Britishers."

Upon the arrival of his force, it immediately opened fire upon the fort. I signalled to Sir Charles, informing him of the condition of affairs, and suggesting that he should move to a place lower down, where I would pick him up on the morrow. The Safieh lying some 500 yards from the bank, and Sir Charles having a difficulty in replying to my signals, Captain Gascoigne volunteered to go aboard. He took a native crew in the felucca and pulled across under a hot fire from the fort, which did not discompose him in the least. There was never a cooler man under fire than Gascoigne. He brought with him the two engine-room artificers of the Naval Brigade who had accompanied Sir Charles Wilson, and who at once went below to help Mr. Benbow to repair the boiler.

Captain Gascoigne returned with a message from myself to Sir Charles Wilson suggesting that, in order to divert the attention of the enemy from the Safieh, he should continue to maintain a fire upon the fort with a part of his force, while the rest proceeded farther down to form a zeriba at a spot suitable for embarkation; and that the women, sick and wounded should proceed in the nuggar during the night to the same place, to which I would bring the steamer on the following morning. Captain Gascoigne rejoined Sir Charles Wilson without casualty.

Sir Charles then sent Captain Trafford forward with the Royal Sussex, Khashm-el-Mus and most of the Soudanese, while Sir Charles himself remained with 30 men and one gun. They maintained a steady and a useful fire until sunset, when they marched after the rest of the party.

Meantime, Mr. Benbow, down below, went on with his work.


It was about two o'clock when the artificers joined him, so that he had already been toiling single-handed, except for the leading stoker, for three hours. After another three hours, at five o'clock, the plate and bar were made, the holes drilled in them and in the boiler, and the threads cut upon the bolts and nuts. But the boiler was still so hot, that it was impossible for a man to be in it, and the plate could not be fixed, because it was necessary to pass the bolts through the plates from inside the boiler. Mr. Benbow pumped cold water into the boiler and out again once or twice; but by 6 o'clock the heat was still too great for a white man to endure. We smeared a negro boy with tallow, and I promised him a reward if he would go into the boiler. He was delighted. He was lowered down, to climb out again faster than he went in. After a short pause, he had another try. This time, in a frying heat that only a black skin could bear, he stayed inside, passing the bolts through, while Mr. Benbow caulked plates and bolts and screwed them home. The boy was none the worse in body and richer in possessions than ever in his life. By seven o'clock the job was done.

You can see what it was for yourself; for the plate is now in the Museum of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. Rear-Admiral Sir Colin Keppel (sub-lieutenant in 1885), writing to me on the subject, says, "When in command of the gunboats under Lord Kitchener in 1898, on our way to Fashoda, about 300 miles above Khartoum on the White Nile, I again came upon our old Safieh, then again in the hands of the dervishes, with whom we had a short action. The first thing I did afterwards was to go down below (I knew where to look!) and found the patch which old Benbow had put on more than 13 years before."

Lord Kitchener afterwards had the plate cut out, and he very kindly sent it to me.

By ten o'clock that night, the boiler was repaired and the fires were laid. In the meantime, as soon as the twilight fell that evening, the fire from the fort slackened. {304} It was my object to delude the enemy into the belief that we had abandoned the steamer; for, if they thought she was empty, they would not fire upon her, lest they should damage an invaluable prize. Moreover, did the enemy suppose that we were staying by the ship, they would during the night shift a gun from the fort, dragging it along the bank to a point abreast of the steamer; whence they could see the vessel looming on the water, whereas we in the steamer could not see them; whence the range was no more than about 80 yards; and whence a single hit would disable us.

But all depended upon our running the gauntlet in the morning. Therefore, in the hope of deceiving the enemy, as the darkness gathered, the four boats brought down to embark Wilson's party were ostentatiously hauled alongside, as if to take off the ship's company. Then all firing stopped; and after that thirteen hours' furious fusillade, the immense and crystal silence of the desert submerged us like the sea. Talking above a whisper was forbidden; every aperture was closed below, where the lamps were burning to light Mr. Benbow at his work, and no spark of light was allowed on deck. The men lit their pipes at a slow match burning in a bucket, and smoked under cover.

After leaving the Safieh in the afternoon, Captain Gascoigne had more adventures with his nuggar, of which by this time he must have been weary. It went ashore opposite to the fort, which of course shot at it, and Gascoigne must embark all except the badly wounded, under fire as usual. Luckily, the enemy failed to get the range. By sunset, the united exertions of Sir Charles Wilson's firing party had refloated the nuggar.

Late that night, we saw her drift past us in the darkness.

The fort fired upon her, but apparently without result, for she drifted on and disappeared. Then the enemy opened fire again upon the steamer. They had run the guns outside the fort in the interval, and fired a few rounds at us, accompanied by a heavy rifle fire. But the Safieh remained dumb and motionless. The firing ceased, the {305} enemy evidently believing that we had abandoned the vessel.

I slept in snatches on deck, waking every now and then to look round. The officers were sound asleep, lying in a neat row on the deck. It occurred to me that, taking into consideration the position in which they lay relative to the gun on the bank, a single shot might kill them all. So I roused them up very quietly, and bade them dispose themselves in various places. I remember how they waked with a sleepy grin, each looking for a separate corner, dropping into it and falling asleep again.

So far, our ruse had succeeded. At five o'clock the next morning (4th February) Mr. Benbow lit the fires, using the utmost caution, keeping the ash-pit draught plates almost shut, in order to prevent sparks, which would instantly betray us, from flying up the funnel. On deck, we were in suspense, all staring at the shot-riddled funnel. It kept its secret for fifty minutes; then suddenly it belched a fountain of hot ashes. It was then within ten minutes of daylight. Almost at the same moment a great shouting broke out in the fort, and a convulsive beating of tom-toms. Then the guns and rifles began to speak again.

What had happened was that when the pressure-gauge indicated 10 lb. of steam, the Arab captain of the stokers suddenly appeared at the engine-room hatch, and spoke swiftly in Arabic to his men, who, before Mr. Benbow could interfere, flung open the draught plates.

It was a close-run business. In the next ten minutes the steam had run up to 20 lb. pressure. Instantly we weighed anchor. The moment the steamer began to move, such a yell of rage went up from the Dervishes in the fort, as I never heard before or since. Leaping and screaming on the bank, they took up handfuls of sand and flung them towards us. They had thought us fled, and the steamer theirs. And there we were, and there was the steamer moving away up river towards Khartoum; and the men of Wad Habeshi were naturally disappointed.


I took the Safieh about a quarter of a mile up stream, both to confuse the enemy and to enable me to turn outside the narrow channel, and at a comparatively safe distance. Then we went about, and ran down at full speed, again concentrating our fire upon the embrasures of the fort. Once more, as we came abreast of Wad Habeshi, we turned both Gardners and both howitzers upon the embrasures, in one of which we burst a shell; while the 20 soldiers and the 14 bluejackets maintained their steady rifle fire.

We were running now with the stream instead of against it, and our speed was the greater, and we stormed past the fort without a single casualty; and then, just as we thought we were clear, lo! there was Gascoigne's hapless nuggar, stuck and helpless some 400 yards below Wad Habeshi, and in full bearing of its side embrasure. As all depended upon the safe passage of the Safieh, I ran on until we were a mile from the fort and out of its range, and then dropped anchor.


I dispatched Keppel with six bluejackets in a small boat to the assistance of the nuggar. Rear-Admiral Sir Colin Keppel very kindly sent to me his account of the affair, based upon the notes made in his diary at the time. "The riflemen, having got rid of the steamer, concentrated their fire on the nuggar. However, the range was long and their fire was not very accurate. After we had anchored you dispatched me in a small boat with six bluejackets to the assistance of the nuggar. After attempting to pull up to her, we found that the stream was too strong, and so I decided, having obtained your approval by semaphore, to land on the right bank, track the boat up until well upstream of the nuggar, and thus reach her. I found the only thing to do was to lighten her; and while Gascoigne and I were throwing overboard sacks of dhura and other things, I was struck in the groin by a bullet which went through my breeches but did not penetrate the skin. It only raised a bruise which made me limp for a few days. There was a considerable number of wounded in the nuggar. When {307} she was afloat again we drifted down. You got under way in the steamer and picked us up."

Such is Keppel's modest account of what was a very gallant piece of service on his part and on the part of Captain Gascoigne, who with their men were working in the nuggar under fire for three hours. Had they failed where they so brilliantly succeeded, the whole Column, as we learned afterwards, would have been jeopardised; for the steamer, returning to their assistance, would again have come within range of the fort.

The nuggar was taken in tow, and Captain Gascoigne's heroic struggles with that unlucky craft were thus ended for the time. A mile below us, Sir Charles Wilson was waiting for us with his whole detachment. They were all embarked, and by 5.45 p.m. we had safely arrived at Gubat.

That night I slept so profoundly that I do not know when I should have awakened, had not first one rat, and then another, walked over my face.

Mr. Benbow's skilled and intrepid service had saved the Column with a piece of boiler plate and a handful of bolts. He received the special compliments of Lord Wolseley, who presented him with his own silver cigarette case; and was promoted to the rank of chief inspector of machinery. He ought to have received the Victoria Cross; but owing to the fact that I did not then know that the decoration could be granted for a service of that nature, I did not, to my great regret, recommend him for the honour. Mr. James Webber was promoted to be chief boatswain; and in 1887, his services being once more exceptionally recommended, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant.

Surgeon Arthur May's services were inestimable. Always cheery, indefatigable and zealous, when he was not attending to the wounded under fire, he was on deck, rifle in hand, among the marksmen. It was a great pleasure to me to report in the highest terms of the conduct of the officers and men under my command, and specially to recommend Lieutenant E. B. van Koughnet, Sub-Lieutenant {308} C. R. Keppel, Acting-Lieutenant Walter Ingram, Chief Engineer Benbow, Surgeon Arthur William May and Mr. James Webber, boatswain, and Lieutenant Bower, commanding the Mounted Infantry.

During the engagement with the fort at Wad Habeshi 5400 rounds were fired from the Gardner guns, and 2150 from the rifles. The figure for the brass howitzers is uncertain, the official report giving 126, but Sub-Lieutenant Keppel, who served one of the guns, mentioned 150 as the number fired from one gun in one day.


THE SOUDAN WAR (Continued)


The proximate result of the fight of the Safieh was of course the fulfilment of its immediate object, the rescue of Sir Charles Wilson's gallant detachment. But, years afterwards, it was made known that the full effect actually extended so far as to include the salvation of the whole Desert Column. In The Royal Navy: A History, vol. vii., Sir William Laird Clowes briefly mentions the fact, referring to Sir F. R. Wingate's letter to Lord Wolseley of 18th March, 1893. The passages in that letter to which he refers are as follows:

"... It is therefore on these grounds only that I have ventured to collate evidence on an episode which may be considered to have been finally dealt with.... Moreover, with the light which this evidence throws on the situation, the results of Beresford's action cannot but be enhanced ... that he was the means of saving Sir C. Wilson and his party is an admitted fact; but when it is realised that added to this, his action really saved the Column, it is, I consider, my duty to bring before you this evidence which, had it been known at the time, might have secured for Beresford and Benbow the greatest reward soldiers and sailors can hope to obtain. But late as it is, it may not be too late for the question to be reopened....

"In order to arrive at the actual details of the Dervish movements subsequent to the fall of Khartoum, a meeting {310} was held at the Intelligence Department, Egyptian Army, Cairo, on the 23rd February, 1893, at which the following were present, namely, Father Orhwalder, Kasha el Mus Pasha, Major Hassan Agha Mohammed (Kassala), Hassan Eff. Riban (late Maowin Berber District) and present at Berber at that time; the Emir Sheikh Medawi (one of the principal Dervish Emirs present in the attack on Khartoum)....

"In the unanimous opinion of the above Committee, the credit of having delayed the Dervish advance and thus enabling the British Column to be retired safely is due to the action of Lord Charles Beresford at Wad Habeshi...."

The following short extracts may be cited from the evidence which led the Committee to their conclusion. The first is taken from the statement of Esh Sheikh Murabek Wad el Tilb, a Kordofan merchant who arrived in Cairo on 30th May, 1888, from Omdurman:

"... There were 3000 Dervishes there (at Wad Habeshi) under the Emir Ahmed Wad Faid and Sheikh Mustafa el Amin. These Dervishes thought they could easily capture the steamer in which there were only about 30 men, but the English stood up and fought like men for many hours, they inflicted great loss on the Dervishes, and forced them to draw off and disperse. Their Chief Emir was killed as well as their Artillery Officer.

"The effect of this defeat on the Dervishes was immense, and it also affected the whole situation. The survivors fled in many directions, spreading the news of the English victory far and wide....

"If the Dervishes at Wad Habeshi had succeeded in capturing the steamer, there is no doubt Nejumi would have hastened his march and would have intercepted the English before they could have got away from Gubat, but instead of that he halted when he heard of Wad Faid's death, and delayed some days in consequence at Wad Bishara and at Gereishab. He had a very large force with him ...



The second extract is translated from the German of Father Orhwalder, long a prisoner of the Mahdi:

"... It is an undoubted fact that Lord Charles Beresford's gallant action at Wad Habeshi was the means of saving the lives of Sir Charles Wilson and his party, who would have suffered a like fate to that of Colonel Stewart and his companions, and it is an equally undoubted fact that the Mahdi's success at Khartoum shook the fidelity of the Shagiyeh, but Lord Charles Beresford's victory at Wad Habeshi had the effect of making Nejumi dread meeting the English on the river, and decided him to attack them on the desert.

"Lord Charles Beresford deserves the credit of having effected this and was thus the means of saving the entire British force.

"(23rd February, 1893)"

It is obvious that the estimation of the conduct of the officers and men who fought at Wad Habeshi remains unaffected by the results of the action, which were neither definitely contemplated nor clearly foreseen. And the evidence I have quoted being irrelevant, strictly speaking, to any criticism of the action itself, is here cited, not in order to enhance the credit of the officers and men concerned but, for the sake both of its intrinsic interest, and for the purpose of illustrating, incidentally, the methods occasionally adopted under the system controlling the Royal Navy.

The effect of the action at Wad Habeshi exemplifies the extraordinary potency of the element of chance in war. Under what conceivable theory of tactics could it have been maintained that a penny steamer had the smallest chance of rescuing a detachment isolated in a hostile country, upon condition of twice engaging a powerful battery at short range, and twice defeating its garrison of sixty or a hundred to one? Or what self-respecting tactician would have {312} predicted that in the extremely improbable event of success, its effect would have been to check, even momentarily, the advance by land of the main force of the enemy?

But the unexpected happened; and as it did happen, it would have been in accordance with a courteous precedent on the part of the authorities to have recognised the fact. I make no complaint of their action as regards myself; and only recall it here in the hope that no repetition of it will be permitted in respect of others perhaps less fortunate than I. The Admiralty refused to allow me to count my service in the Soudan either as time spent in command of a ship of war, or, as part of a period of command spent both in peace and war. Their Lordships' refusal might have involved my retirement before I had completed the time required to qualify for flag rank. The Queen's Regulations ordained: that a captain must have completed six years' service, of which the first three years must be in command of a ship of war at sea; or that he must have completed four years during war; or five years, of war and peace combined.

After having been for over two years in command of H.M.S. Undaunted, I applied (in May, 1892) for permission to count the 315 days in the Soudan during which I was borne on the books of H.M.S. Alexandra, which were allowed as sea-time by the Admiralty, in the required five years of war and peace combined. The application was refused, on the ground that war service could not be reckoned by a captain unless he was in command of a ship of war actually employed in active service at sea.

Having completed my three years' service in command at sea, I applied (in April, 1893) for permission to count the 315 days sea-time, although they preceded the three years in command at sea, as part of the required six years' service. The application was refused, upon the ground that its acceptance was not necessary in order to save me from retirement.

A year and a half afterwards (in January, 1895) I repeated my application, pointing out that in three cases {313} the Admiralty had, by order in council, conceded similar claims of admittedly much less force than my own, and that the only naval officers engaged in the Soudan war who were not allowed to count their time towards promotion were Captain Boardman and myself. Their Lordships then merely referred me to their previous answers. I may mention that my application was warmly and emphatically supported by Lord Wolseley.


THE SOUDAN WAR (Continued)


Upon the day after the rescue of Sir Charles Wilson's party, a court of inquiry, under my presidency, was held to investigate the conduct of the captains of the two wrecked steamers, and one of the Reises. The captains were acquitted. The Reis was found guilty of treachery, but his punishment was remitted in consideration of the fact that he had brought Lieutenant Stuart-Wortley safely down the river after the wreck of the Bordein.

The little Safieh was riddled with bullet-holes; she leaked like a sieve, so that even before the action of Wad Habeshi, the pumps must be kept going continually; and her bows, under the incessant concussion of the guns, had opened out like a flower. The sides came away from the stem, and in order to stop the water coming in, the natives had stuffed rags and mud into the openings, which of course widened them. Upon our return to Gubat, I caused a dry dock to be excavated in the bank; ran the bows of the steamer into it; closed it against the water with mud; and kept two black men baling out the water as hard as they could go for eight hours on end, while we cut and fitted a new stem and bolted the sides to it; a very difficult job, because the sides of the steamer were rotten. The other repairs having been effected, I took the Safieh (which was so decayed that the pumps must still be kept going) out {315} daily for foraging expeditions, to get cattle, sheep and vegetables, and also to show there was fight in us yet. There were no fowls, because the Mahdi had declared them to be unclean.

Captain Gascoigne and Khashm-el-Mus used to accompany me upon these expeditions, Gascoigne taking command of the raiding parties on shore: Lieutenant Robert A. J. Montgomerie (afterwards Rear-Admiral Montgomerie, C.B., C.M.G.) was of the greatest service. Montgomerie was of extraordinary physical strength and prowess. He joined me on 11th February, with Lieutenant G. W. Tyler, at Gubat. While helping to work the boats up the river, Montgomerie saved a gun which sank when the boat in which it was capsized. The weight of muzzle or breach (whichever it was) was well over 200 lb., and the water was shoulder-deep. Montgomerie picked up the gun, hove it upon his shoulder and waded ashore with it.

His exploits at Ismailia are still remembered. He was sitting in a saloon, where three French natives determined to provoke the English officer. They chose the wrong man. One of the trio upset Montgomerie's glass of beer, and although he did not apologise, Montgomerie, supposing him to have done it by accident, took no notice. A second man did the same, with the same result. Then the third hero deliberately threw down Montgomerie's glass with his hand. Montgomerie then acted instantly and with great rapidity. He knocked one man senseless, picked up another and threw him on the top of his friend, took the third and flung him up on the roof of the balcony.

Surgeon-General A. W. May reminds me that he and Montgomerie discovered, at some distance from the river, a garden wherein grew onions and limes. Montgomerie pulled the onions, while May collected the limes for the sick in hospital. But a lime-tree is armed with long and sharp thorns; and May, desiring to preserve his one and only uniform, stripped and climbed the tree in his birthday suit. Suddenly Arabs appeared; and May had but the {316} time to descend, pick up his clothes and fly with Montgomerie back to the steamer.

Surgeon-General May also reminds me that upon another foraging trip, we landed a party of Gordon's Soudanese troops to capture a flock of sheep. Before the blacks had time to get away with the sheep, the Arabs came down, and began to fire at them and also at the steamer. I sent a black sergeant-major and a bugler to hasten the retreat of the Soudanese. Two of them, each of whom was carrying a sheep, lagged somewhat; whereupon the sergeant-major lay down, took careful aim, and fired at them. Neither he nor they seemed to consider the method unusual. It was on one of these foraging parties that Quartermaster Olden saved the entire raiding party. Captain Gascoigne, in command of a wild lot of Bashi-Bazouks and the most of the men from the Safieh, had gone some little distance inland to a village. I was left in the Safieh with six men to serve the Gardner gun. The steamer was lying alongside the bank, but not close in; for it was necessary to keep a certain depth of water under her keel in a falling river, and to be able to shove off quickly. I had poles ready rigged for this purpose. The Bashi-Bazouks, who began firing from the hip at random with loud cries so soon as they came on shore, had vanished into the distance with the rest of the party; when I perceived afar off a crowd of Dervishes gathering at a place at right angles to the line upon which the raiding party must return, and nearer to the Safieh than the village where was the raiding party. The Dervishes, therefore, evidently intended to cut off the British force.

I sent for Olden, gave him his instructions, and sent him on shore with two riflemen. The three ran like hares through the scrub towards the enemy. They ran at full speed for about 600 yards to get within range. Then they scattered, concealed themselves and fired; moved again swiftly, and fired again; and kept on repeating the manoeuvre, until the Dervishes, believing that the scrub was {317} swarming with English riflemen, drew off; and the raiding party returned in safety. For this service, Olden was recommended by me for the conspicuous gallantry medal.

The black soldiers, going barefoot, used to come in with their feet transfixed by long thorns; these I cut out with a horse-lancet fitted to my knife; and the operation was like cutting leather. I had gained experience in performing it while getting the boats through at Wady Halfa. At Ismailia a more delicate operation fell to me. While fishing, my hook caught in a man's eyelid. The French surgeon who was summoned went to work with a lancet, and tried to pull the barb through the wound, causing the patient acute agony. I sent the doctor aside, and using one of a pair of breeches' bow-ties (for tying bows at the knees) drew the hook through to the shank, and severed it, much to the surgeon's indignation.

The expeditions up and down the river in the Safieh were amusing enough; but we were only making the best of the interval before the next move. Sir Charles Wilson had left Gubat on 6th February for Korti, where he arrived on the 9th bearing the news of the fall of Khartoum, and a full account of the condition of the Desert Column. Lord Wolseley telegraphed the information to Lord Hartington (Secretary of State for War), who telegraphed in reply: "Express warm recognition of Government of brilliant services of Sir C. Wilson and satisfaction at gallant rescue of his party."

Lord Wolseley, upon receipt of Sir C. Wilson's dispatch containing the account of the action at Abu Kru, fought on the 19th January, when Sir Herbert Stewart was wounded, had appointed Major-General Sir Redvers Buller to take command of the Desert Column, Sir Evelyn Wood being appointed chief of staff in his place. Buller had left Korti on 29th January, and had arrived at Jakdul on the 2nd February. Lord Wolseley had also dispatched the Royal Irish Regiment to reinforce the Desert Column. The Royal Irish marched on foot the whole way across the {318} Bayuda Desert, each man carrying 70 rounds of ammunition, filled water bottles and rolled greatcoats. The first detachment left Korti on the 28th January, the second on the 30th; both arriving at Jakdul on the 4th February. They left Jakdul on the 7th. Buller left on the following day; and upon arriving at Abu Klea, he left there two companies of the Royal Irish, the rest of which accompanied him to Gubat, for which place he started on the 10th. I saw the Royal Irish march in; a splendid body of fighting men, trained down to the last ounce, lean as hounds, and spoiling for a fight.

It will be observed that Buller was at Jakdul, half-way across the Desert, on the 4th February, on which date Lord Wolseley learned from Sir Charles Wilson of the fall of Khartoum. Lord Wolseley dispatched three sets of orders to Sir Redvers Buller in quick succession, the last reaching him at Abu Klea on the 10th, before he had resumed his march to Gubat.

Lord Wolseley's dispatch instructed Sir Redvers Buller to make every preparation for the evacuation of Gubat and the withdrawal of the Column. At the same time, its tenor left a certain discretion to Buller; who, replying to it in a private letter carried by the returning messenger to Lord Wolseley, "spoke," says Colonel Colville, in his official History of the Sudan Campaign, "hopefully of the situation." I think the presence of the Royal Irish, in magnificent condition, suggested to Buller that he could fight anybody anywhere.

In fact, when Sir Redvers came in to Gubat on 11th February, he wanted to remain and fight. At his request, I stated to him my view of the situation; which was, briefly, that unless we departed swiftly, we should be eaten up by the enemy, who were known to be advancing in immense force. I also reported officially that until the Nile rose, the two steamers remaining to us were practically useless: a consideration which proved conclusive. Sir Redvers Buller's dispatch, dated at Gubat 12th February, and addressed to {319} the chief of staff, describes the conclusions to which he came after having carefully reviewed the situation (History of the Sudan Campaign—Part II. p. 56). The camels were greatly reduced in number and were nearly worn out; but if the Column were to attempt any further enterprise, the camels must be sent to Jakdul and back to bring supplies, a journey which would take at least ten days. This circumstance was virtually conclusive. Sir Redvers adds: "I regret to have to express now an opinion different to that which I expressed to Lord Wolseley in a letter dated the night of the 10th instant; but when I then wrote, I was not aware of the condition of the steamers and of the fact that the big one could not pass a sandbank 25 miles below this. Lord C. Beresford considers it doubtful if the other one can either.... Since writing this I am confirmed in my opinion by the news that Mohammed Ahmed (the Mahdi) left Khartoum en route here on the 9th instant."

G.C.B., G.C.M.G., D.C.L., LL.D., O.M.

In the meantime, Lord Wolseley had ordered the River Column to halt on its way. On the 10th, General Earle, in command of the River Column, had been killed at the action of Kirbekan. Lord Wolseley, until he received Sir Redvers Buller's account of the desperate condition of the River Column—deprived of transport, encumbered with wounded, short of stores (owing to bad packing), and without boots—retained his intention of effecting a junction of the two columns at Berber. At the end of the third week in February that scheme was necessarily abandoned. The River Column was recalled; and Buller, then on his way back with the Desert Column, was instructed to return direct to Korti.

On the morning of 13th February the sick and wounded were dispatched with a convoy under the command of Colonel Talbot. Eight or nine miles out, the convoy was attacked, surrounded on three sides, and exposed to fire from the enemy concealed in the bush. Among the wounded were the scalded engine-room artificers; one of whom, recalling the incident in conversation with me {320} recently, said: "That was the first time my heart sank—when the bearers put down my litter, and the firing began."

After about two hours' engagement, when the convoy had lost eight killed and wounded, the Light Camel Regiment, under the command of Colonel Clarke, marching from Jakdul, opportunely appeared, and the enemy drew off.

Colonel Talbot (my cousin) very kindly sent me a copy of his diary, kept at the time. His account of the affair gives little indication of what was in fact a passage of very considerable danger. He was encumbered with a large number of sick and wounded; his force was small; the force of the enemy, though it was impossible to estimate the exact numbers, was formidable; and in spite of Talbot's skilful and prompt dispositions of defence, the issue must have been very doubtful had not the Light Camel Regiment arrived.

Colonel Talbot's account runs as follows: "February 13th.—Received orders from Sir R. Buller to march for Jakdul at dawn with 75 sick and wounded, Sir H. Stewart and the worst cases carried in litters borne by Egyptian soldiers from Khartoum. Escort of 300 men joined from the 3 Camel Regiments and about 200 Gordon's Egyptians from Khartoum.

"February 14.—Marched at dawn 8 miles, and halted for breakfast. Outposts, just as we were about to resume march, sent in report of approach of large force of Arabs—mounted men, riflemen, and spearmen. The Column was formed up, the wounded in the centre surrounded by camels lying down, and outside them the Egyptian soldiers. The Camel Corps troops were formed in two squares, one of the Heavy and Guards' Camel Regiments in front of the Column, and the other of the Mounted Infantry in rear. Skirmishers were sent into the bush to feel for the enemy. The enemy opened fire and worked all round our force, apparently trying to ascertain our weakest point. It was impossible to estimate the strength of the enemy owing to the thick bush, but a considerable number of riflemen, supported by a large {321} force of spearmen, were seen, and about 30 horsemen were counted. After the affair had lasted about two hours, and we had lost 8 men killed and wounded, the Light Camel Regiment on the march to Gubat appeared unexpectedly, and narrowly escaped becoming engaged with us, owing to both forces being unaware of the proximity of the other, and through the bush it was difficult to distinguish the Arabs from ourselves. No doubt the arrival of the Light Camel Regiment accounted for the sudden disappearance of the enemy."

It was Colonel Brabazon (now Major-General Sir J. P. Brabazon, C.B., C.V.O.), second in command of the Light Camel Corps, who, when the Column had marched nearly half-way from Abu Klea to Metemmeh, went to his commanding officer, Colonel Stanley Clarke, and suggested that the Column should be immediately diverted to the scene of action. Colonel Brabazon led the Column in the direction of the firing, and his two or three hundred camels made so great a dust that the Arabs thought a whole army was advancing upon their flank, and instantly fled away. The result was that, hidden in the bush, the Light Camel Corps occupied the ground vacated by the enemy, unknown to the convoy, which continued to fire at the place they supposed the Arabs to be. General Brabazon's account of the affair, which he very kindly sent to me, is as follows:

"I halted the Column, and the bush being very thick, the trees stopped most of the bullets; nevertheless, they were knocking up the dust at the feet of our camels, and a bullet struck my mess-tin. I ordered our regimental call to be sounded, 'The Camels (Campbells) are coming,' 'Lights Out,' and finally 'Dinners.' But it was not until two or three of us pushed our way through the bush into the open, whence I saw the convoy preparing to give us another volley, that they realised we were friends and not foes, and precious glad they were to see us. They had only a small escort and were of course hampered with the sick and wounded, and I think everyone who was there will agree {322} that they were in a bad way.... I dined at the Guards' mess afterwards, and Douglas Dawson said that he had just given his men the range preparatory to their firing another volley, when he put up his glasses and made out the helmets and red morocco coverings of the camel saddles, and shouted, 'Come down! They are our fellows.' Then, Dawson said, his soldier servant, who was standing behind him, remarked: 'Why, I could have told you they were our fellows ten minutes before!' I suppose he had recognised the 'Dinners' call."

So ended a comedy which had come very near to being a tragedy. Gordon's Egyptian soldiers, who were carrying the wounded, put the litters down when the firing began. Among the wounded were poor Sir Herbert Stewart, devotedly nursed by Major Frank Rhodes, Major Poe, Royal Marines, Sub-Lieutenant E. L. Munro and Lieutenant Charles Crutchley. Poe and Crutchley each had a leg amputated. All the wounded were lying helpless on the sand, listening to the firing, and moment by moment expecting the terrible Dervish rush. A violent death was very close to them, when Brabazon and his men came in the nick of time. The convoy had one of the narrowest escapes in the history of the British Army. It remains to add that Colonel Brabazon received no recognition of his action of any kind from the authorities.

Colonel Talbot had been continuously employed upon the difficult and arduous convoy duty since the arrival of the Desert Column at Gubat on the 21st. Two days later Talbot started to return to Jakdul to fetch supplies. Not he nor his men nor his camels had a day's rest from the 8th January, when the Desert Column left Korti, till the 27th, when the convoy was back again at Jakdul. The convoy reached Gubat on the 31st January; next day came the news of the fall of Khartoum; and the same evening the convoy marched again for Jakdul with sick and wounded. From Jakdul it returned with Sir Redvers Buller; arrived at Gubat on the 11th February; and started again on the 13th, {323} as already related, with another party of sick and wounded. On the way back to Korti, Colonel Talbot, without engineers or commissariat, constructed a camp and built forts at Megaga Wells, where the main body, including the Naval Brigade, joined his convoy on 2nd March.

After Colonel Talbot's convoy had left Gubat on 13th February, I disposed of the poor old Safieh and the Tewfikiyeh, lest upon our departure they should be taken by the enemy. The six brass guns were spiked and thrown overboard, the ammunition was destroyed, the eccentric straps were removed from the machinery, and finally the valves were opened and the vessels sunk.

Then came the sad destruction of the stores for which we had no transport. The number of camels would only suffice to carry rations for three days, by the end of which the Column would have arrived at Abu Klea, where were more stores. When Colonel Talbot's convoy of supplies reached Gubat two days previously, the garrison had for ten days been living on short rations: nevertheless, more than half of what he brought must be destroyed. Count Gleichen (With the Camel Corps up the Nile) says that "19,000 lbs. of flour, 3000 lbs. of biscuit, 21,220 lbs. of beef, 900 lbs. of bacon, 1100 lbs. of tea, oatmeal, preserved vegetables, coffee, and all sorts of stores were pierced and thrown into the river"—an example of waste in war resulting from deficient transport.

Some of the medical comforts, small bottles of champagne and port, were distributed. One among us—I think his name was Snow—took a bottle of wine and swore he would keep it till he drank it in Khartoum. And he did. He went into Khartoum with Kitchener thirteen years afterwards, and drank his libation in the conquered city.

That incident reminds me that, when I went with the party of members of the House of Commons to Russia in 1912, a Russian farmer sent a note to the British admiral, of whom he said he had heard, together with a bottle containing mustard which he had grown, and which he sent {324} as a token that the aforesaid British admiral would give his enemies mustard when he met them; for, said the farmer, the enemies of England would certainly be the enemies of Russia. I have that bottle of mustard.

What went to my heart when the stores were destroyed, was the dreadful waste of my drums of precious lubricating oil, carried so far with so great labour. My tears mingled with the oil as it was poured out upon the sand.

On the 14th February, at 5.30 a.m., the Desert Column quitted Gubat and started on the long return march to Korti, officers and men alike on foot, excepting the Hussars. There was hardly a pair of boots in the whole column. Some of the men cut up old rifle-buckets and tied the pieces with string to the soles of their feet. As for my sailors, they marched barefoot, every man carrying his rifle, cutlass, and 70 cartridges, and many of them towing reluctant camels. One camel to every four men was allotted to carry saddle-bags and blankets; and the camels kept dropping and dying all the way. By the time he had been three days out, Count Gleichen, in charge of the baggage, had lost 92 camels. At first the weather was cool with a northerly breeze, and all started well. On the march, in default of water, I used to spread my clothes in the sun while I rubbed myself all over with sand; a dry bath that was highly cleansing and refreshing. On the 15th February we came to Abu Klea, somewhat weary.

We were of course in constant expectation of attack. On the next day (16th) the Naval Brigade occupied a sand redoubt, on which the two Gardner guns were mounted.

Sir Redvers Buller, finding that the water supply was insufficient and that there was not enough food for the camels, sent on the Soudanese troops, baggage, stores and camp-followers under escort to Jakdul, while he halted at Abu Klea to keep the enemy in check, until the unloaded camels returned from Jakdul, and until further instructions arrived from headquarters. The remainder of the Column, entrenched at Abu Klea, thus became the rearguard, in the {325} air, as the phrase is; isolated for the time being and deprived of transport and reserve stores; a dangerous position forced upon the general by the lack of camels.

In the evening began the customary desert performance, opened by the Dervishes firing at long range from a hill-top commanding the camp, and continued during the long, cold, sleepless night with intermittent sniping to a tom-tom accompaniment. But our men were seasoned by this time; and although one among them was hit now and again, the situation no longer set a strain upon their nerves, but was accepted as part of the routine. That night two men were killed and thirteen wounded. It is true that the faithful José Salvatro, my Maltese servant, who had done and suffered so much, lost patience on this occasion. He was heating cocoa over the fire, when a bullet struck the tin and splashed the hot cocoa all over him.

"Why they fire me, sare?" said José. "Always firing me. I never did them any harm."

In the morning (the 17th) the enemy opened fire with a gun; which, after three or four rounds, was knocked out by the Naval Brigade with a Gardner.

I had walked a little way from the redoubt, when I was knocked over by a stunning blow striking me at the base of the spine, and lay helpless. I thought I was done; and I thought what an unlucky dog I was to have come through so much, to die on the way back from a wound in a place so undignified. But it was only a ricochet; my men carried me in; and I speedily recovered.

During the day Major F. M. Wardrop, D.A.A.G., and Lieutenant R. J. Tudway of the Mounted Infantry, with three men, employed the tactics I had used outside Alexandria two years previously. Riding swiftly from one point to another, and concealing themselves in the intervals, they impressed the Dervishes with the delusion that a large force threatened them in rear, and so caused them to retreat. In the afternoon, Lieutenant-Colonel H. McCalmont arrived with the news of the action of the River Column at Kirbekan {326} on the 10th, and of the death of General Earle. The mail from Korti contained a kind message of congratulation addressed by the Khedive to myself, referring to the engagement at Wad Habeshi, as well as congratulations from home. The total number of killed and wounded during the 16th and 17th was three men killed, and four officers and 23 men wounded. We heard on the 21st of the death of our beloved General, Sir Herbert Stewart, who, in spite of all our hopes, had succumbed to his wound on the 17th, during the march of Colonel Talbot's convoy, seven miles north of Geb-el-Nus. He was buried with full military honours on the following day near the wells of Jakdul.

On the 22nd February a convoy under Colonel Brabazon arrived with 782 camels. These were only just sufficient to move the stores and supplies.

It may here be noted that it was only a day or two previously that Lord Wolseley had received at Korti Sir Redvers Buller's letters describing the complete collapse of the transport of the Desert Column; and it was this information, together with a minute from Sir Evelyn Wood, who was at Jakdul, that finally decided Lord Wolseley to abandon his intention of combining the Desert and River Columns to hold posts along the Nile preparatory to an autumn campaign. At the same time, great anxiety with regard to the Desert Column prevailed at home.

Upon the morning of the next day (the 23rd) our picquets reported that the enemy had received a reinforcement of some 8000 men and six guns. Perhaps the Column had never been in more imminent danger than it was at that moment.

Sir Redvers Buller discussed the situation with me. I expressed the opinion that the large force of the enemy would cut off our advance, rush us, and then move upon Jakdul and so on to Korti itself; and remarked that the Column was short of transport and of provisions, and would be short of water.


"What would you do if you were in command?" said Buller.

I told him that in the evening I would light a larger number of camp-fires than usual, and, leaving them burning in order to deceive the enemy, I would then depart in silence and with speed.

"For a sailor ashore," said Buller, "you've a good head. I'll do it."

And he did.

At two o'clock the same afternoon, Sir Redvers Buller sent on his sick and wounded—32 of all ranks—with a convoy of 300 men commanded by Colonel Stanley Clarke; and that night, at 7.30, the rest of the Column stole forth into the desert, leaving a ring of camp-fires flaming in the dark behind us. We halted after four hours' march and bivouacked in peace. Next day (the 24th) we were sniped by a few wandering scouts: and save for these, saw no enemy. Then began the three days' hard marching, on short rations, and very little water, in great heat, to Jakdul. Many of the men fell out: but not one man of the Naval Brigade.

We arrived at Jakdul on the 26th February. I did not keep a diary: but Lieutenant Colin Keppel's journal defines the situation in three eloquent words: "Water, mails, cigarettes!"

Next day I found time to write home, the first opportunity for so doing during the past six weeks.

"Even now (I wrote), I am writing in a storm of sand and wind, my paper blowing one way and my helmet another, among my camels, who smell most poisonous. Poor things, they were eight days without water, and had only what food they could get when foraging in the desert. And they have so many and so large holes in their backs, that I am obliged to put shot-plugs in, to keep the water in when they drink...."

It was true that I put shot-plugs in the camels. My official report (and what can be truer than an official report?) {328} contains under date 27th February the sole entry: "Employed repairing camels' sides by plugging them with oakum!" Lord Wolseley laughed when he read it. But although the surgery may appear empirical, it was wonderfully successful. The admixture of tar acted as an antiseptic.

On the following day (28th February) we resumed the march to Korti; on 2nd March the Naval Brigade joined Colonel Talbot's convoy at Megaga Wells, with the Heavy Camel Regiment and Royal Artillery. The Guards' Camel Regiment had gone on to Abu Halfa. The remainder of the Column under Sir Evelyn Wood left Jakdul on 3rd March.

At Megaga Wells Colonel Talbot took command and we left for Korti, officers and men continuing to march on foot, very few having soles to their boots. There was one camel allocated to carry the kits of five men; 30 camels carried water; and 10 carried the sick. The thermometer registered 112° in the shade, and a hot wind blew. And so we came to Korti on the 8th March, two months after we had left it.

Lord Wolseley inspected the Naval Brigade on parade; and expressed his extreme satisfaction at the work they had done, and the manner in which it had been performed. The next day the Brigade was broken up, and told off to different stations, under the command of Captain Boardman. I was ordered to rejoin the staff of Lord Wolseley.

Colonel Talbot notes that the Heavy Camel Regiment, of which he was in command, had marched about 850 miles; that the strength of the regiment upon leaving Korti was 23 officers and 373 men; and that its strength upon its return was 15 officers and 256 men.

Only four of his men arrived on camels. Not one of my sailors fell out during the whole way from Gubat to Korti.

Here, perhaps, it is not inopportune to place on record how delighted I was to work with the Army. We are really only one Service, for the protection of one Empire.

Nor, perhaps, to relate how that Her Majesty Queen {329} Victoria, when she pinned the C.B. to my coat, said low, "I am very glad to give you this, Lord Charles. I am very pleased with you."

Her Majesty's words were my reward; for I will own that decorations as such have never attracted me.

I desire to record the excellent service of Captain F. R. Boardman (afterwards Admiral Frederick Ross Boardman, C.B.), who invariably did his utmost at the base to keep the Naval Brigade supplied. It was not Captain Boardman's fortune to be in the first fighting line, where is all the fun and where is often all the renown; yet the success of the fighting line depends entirely upon the energy, forethought and unselfish loyalty of those at the base of supply.

I happened to be discussing this point with a certain highly distinguished personage.

"We got all the credit," I said, "but not half enough was given to those at the base who sent forward the bullets and the grub."

"Grub? What is grub?" inquired the highly distinguished personage.

"I beg your pardon, sir. It is a slang term for food and provisions."

"So grub is food, is it? How very interesting!" said the highly distinguished personage.

The sequel to our expedition was of course Lord Kitchener's masterly campaign. After the capture of Omdurman, and the blowing up of the Mahdi's tomb, it was publicly stated that a certain officer was bringing home the skull of the holy man, intending to make it into an inkpot. The House of Commons (of which I was then a member) having nothing better to do, discussed the matter on 5th June, 1899. Lord Kitchener sat in the Distinguished Strangers' Gallery. Mr. John Morley (now Lord Morley) protested against the desecration of the tomb of the Mahdi. I replied to Mr. Morley, protesting against his assumption of authority in the matter. I said:

"Now I wish to take, most respectfully, issue with the {330} right honourable the Member for Montrose upon this point. I say this with great respect and with great earnestness that so far as I can judge from the right honourable gentleman's writings and by his teachings, he is no judge of religious fanaticism whatever. I say this with respect because, as I understand what he has written, he does not regard religious fanaticism as anything that can ever be powerful, because he says himself that he does not understand the question at all. That being so, I cannot accept the right honourable gentleman as a guide as to what should be done to check religious fanaticism.... The right honourable the Member for Montrose does not believe in the power of religious fanaticism...."

Mr. Morley: "The Noble Lord cannot have read my writings, or else he would have seen that fanaticism was one of the things I have written most about" (Hansard 5th June, 1899).

A member said to me in the lobby afterwards: "You really ought not to say these things. Why do you make these assertions?"

"Because," I said, "I have read Mr. Morley's works."

"You know very well," said my friend, "that you have never read any of his books."

"I beg your pardon," I replied. "I never go to sleep without reading one of Mr. Morley's books, and I never read one of Mr. Morley's books without going to sleep."


THE SOUDAN WAR (Continued)


For the first few weeks after the return of the Desert Column to Korti, we all believed that there would be an autumn campaign, and we looked forward to the taking of Khartoum. Lord Wolseley distributed his troops among various stations along the Nile from the Hannek Cataract to Abu Dom, there to remain in summer quarters. In his dispatch of 6th March, 1885 (Colville's History of the Soudan Campaign, Part II.), Lord Wolseley indicated the force he would require, and requested that the railway might be continued from Halfa to Ferkeh, a distance of 47 miles. The railway was begun and was eventually completed. By 1st April the troops were occupying their allotted stations. One distinguished officer was so certain of remaining in his quarters, that he sowed vegetables in his garden. But upon 13th April Lord Wolseley was ordered to consider the measures requisite to effect a total withdrawal; and British faith was once more broken by a British Government.

By that time Lord Wolseley, to whose personal staff I was once more attached, had been to Dongola and had come to Cairo.

The news from home consisted chiefly of rumours of war with Russia; and I was gratified to learn that largely in consequence of my representations 50 machine guns had been sent to India. Machine guns were then upon {332} their trial; and I had been consulted by the authorities as to their precise utility. We also heard of the hearty cordiality and enthusiasm with which the Prince and Princess of Wales were being greeted in Ireland upon the occasion of their visit to my country. There had been some misgivings upon the subject; and I had had the honour to suggest to the Prince that if, as well as visiting towns and cities in state, he went into the country among my people and shot with them and hunted with them like the sportsman he was, he would find no more loyal or delightful people in the Queen's dominions.

As a matter of fact, neither in the towns nor anywhere else in Ireland, did the Prince and Princess receive aught but a most hearty welcome. Nor did the Nationalist party even attempt to arouse a formal demonstration directed against their visitors. They might have suggested, but did not, that some such conventional protest was due to the doctrine representing Ireland as a conquered country.

At the end of April Lord Wolseley and his staff including myself, embarked in the s.s. Queen for Souakim.

The Souakim expedition under the command of General Sir G. Graham was then in full progress. On the 20th February he had been directed to destroy the power of Osman Digna, and to guard the construction of the Souakim-Berber railway. On the 20th March, Graham fought the successful action of Hashin. On the 22nd was fought the bloody engagement of McNeill's zeriba. The British were surprised while at work upon the construction of the zeriba; the first shot was fired at 2.50 p.m., and the cease fire was sounded at 3.10. During that twenty minutes of confused and desperate fighting, some 1500 Arabs out of an attacking force of 5000 were killed. Desultory firing continued for an hour, when the enemy retreated. According to the official history, the British losses were 150 killed, 148 missing, 174 wounded, and 501 camels killed and missing.

The field of battle lay some six miles from Souakim; I {333} rode out with Lord Wolseley to see it. Before we had ridden three miles in the dust and the glare of sunlight, the hot air carried a dreadful waft of corruption. The stench thickened as we drew near. A dusky cloud of kites and vultures hovered sluggishly and unafraid among a wilderness of discoloured mounds. The sand was heaped so scantily upon the dead, that lipless skulls, and mutilated shanks, and clenched hands, were dreadfully displayed. The bodies of the camels were mingled in a pile of corruption, clustered upon by the birds of prey.

And wandering about that charnel-ground, raking in it with a hooked stick, was a strange man whom I had met years ago in Japan, where he used to photograph the cruel executions of that country. He spoke no known tongue, but chattered in a jumble of languages; and here he was, equipped with a camera, and placidly exploring horrors with a hooked stick. Whence he came, and whither he went, we stayed not to inquire.

Day after day, for many days, the convoys of the expedition must pass and repass this place, which lay in their direct route, at the slow march of laden camels, and walking warily, lest they stepped ankle-deep into a festering corpse.

General Graham, having occupied Tamai, Handub, and Tambuk, dispersed the force of Mohammed Sardun on the 6th May; an operation which left him practically master of the district. But on the 11th May, Lord Wolseley, acting upon the instructions of the Government, ordered the general withdrawal of all troops from the Soudan. On the 19th, we left Souakim for Cairo. On the 27th June, Lord Wolseley turned over the command of the forces in Egypt to General Sir F. Stephenson, and with his staff left Cairo for Alexandria, there to embark for England.

Seven days previously (on 20th June), though we knew not of it, the Mahdi, who had given us so much trouble, had died in Khartoum. There he lay, listening perhaps for the footsteps of the returning English; for he knew that, although the English are ruled by people having the appearance of {334} men but the ways of a weathercock, they may go, but they always come back. Thirteen years the false prophet slept in peace: and then the man who had sojourned in a cave at the wells of Abu Klea secretly collecting information, what time the Desert Column followed a forlorn hope, rode into the Dervish city, and destiny was fulfilled. Lord Kitchener of Khartoum fulfilled it, as strong men have a way of doing. A poet once said that the soul of Gladstone is now probably perching on the telegraph wires that bridge the desert where we fought to save Gordon, too late. I know nothing about that; but I know what the betrayal cost.

We learned afterwards that ere the Mahdi died, he had begun to concentrate his armies upon Dongola, a movement that was continued after his death, until the Dervishes were finally defeated by General Stephenson, at Ginnis, on 30th December, 1885.

General Dormer had a way of his own with the Mahdi's disciples. Addressing a prisoner, he said:

"I suppose you believe in the Mahdi because he can work miracles. Can your prophet pluck out his eye and put it back again? Well, I am no prophet, but I can."

And with that, Dormer took his glass eye from its socket, tossed it in the air, caught it, and replaced it. The Arab was dumbfounded.



There is nothing quite so dead as dead politics; therefore I do not intend to dwell upon my political experiences, except in so far as they relate to the purpose for which I entered Parliament. That purpose was to serve the interests of the Royal Navy. Politics, as such, have never greatly interested me; the Party system always appeared to me to involve a sacrifice of principle; and if I am associated with the party with which I am naturally most in sympathy, at least I may claim to have attacked them quite as often as I have attacked their political opponents. In return, they have often declined to support me in my proposals; which, however, have always been supported by the public, and which as a rule have ultimately been adopted by the authorities.

In 1885, the Parliamentary tradition which I had known ten years previously, remained unchanged. During the succeeding generation it became gradually transformed. Old members, like myself, will understand what I mean. New members can have little notion of the House of Commons their fathers knew. In one respect, at least, the alteration is even startling. The public interest in politics and in Parliament, once so general and so sincere, has now almost ceased to exist. What that contemptuous indifference may portend, is another question.

In June, 1885, the Liberal Government, having passed their Franchise and Redistribution Bills, and having aroused general and deep indignation concerning their conduct of {336} the Soudan campaign, chose to resign upon an amendment to Mr. Childers's Budget. Lord Salisbury accepted office, and wound up the session. The general election took place during the autumn. I stood for East Marylebone, my opponents being the Rev. J. R. Diggle and Mr. D. Grant. Mr. Diggle apparently withdrew; for I find that my majority of 944 votes was over Mr. Grant's poll. The main topic of my speeches was the necessity of increasing the Fleet, and of maintaining the Union. For rumours that Mr. Gladstone intended to bring forward a Home Rule policy were in the air.

The result of the election was: Liberals 334, Conservatives 250, Irish Nationalists 86; placing the Conservatives at the mercy of the Irish. Lord Salisbury's Government were defeated upon an amendment to the Address, brought forward by Mr. Jesse Collings, in January, 1886. Lord Salisbury resigned, and Mr. Gladstone returned to office. Then came his conversion to Home Rule, and the secession of the Liberal Unionists. On 7th July, 1886, the Government were defeated on the Home Rule Bill. At the general election which followed, the Radicals and Home Rulers were returned in a minority of 118. I was again returned for East Marylebone, my opponent being Professor Beesly, with an increased majority. In the new Parliament, Lord Salisbury was Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; Lord Randolph Churchill, Chancellor of the Exchequer; Mr. W. H. Smith, Leader of the House of Commons; and Lord George Hamilton, First Lord of the Admiralty.

It was during one of the Marylebone elections that I was visited by a deputation of clergymen of various denominations, who solemnly assured me that, if I persisted in supporting the proposal to open museums and picture-galleries on Sundays, they would not vote for me.

"Gentlemen, has it ever occurred to you that I have not asked you to vote for me?" said I. "Or that I have never in my life asked a man for a vote?"


They looked at one another. In the ensuing silence, I told them that if they did not approve of me, they ought, as honest men, to vote for my opponent. They sadly and silently departed, and I saw them no more: nor do I know for whom were cast the votes of those men of God; but I was returned to Parliament.

Lord Folkestone was standing for Enfield; and when I went down to speak for him, I found bread upon the waters which returned to me after many days, in the shape and size of a Royal Marine. While I was speaking, there arose a tumult at the back of the hall. So far as I could make out from the platform, a man was insisting on being heard. I called to him to come up to the platform, where, if he had anything to say, he could say it. Whereupon a large, resolute and aggressive person came swiftly up to me. I thought he wanted to fight, and was ready for him. But he seized my hands in his, shook them warmly, then turned to the audience and told them the whole story of how I had saved his life off the Falkland Islands, years before, when I was a lieutenant in the Galatea. The ship was lying at anchor; it was a dark night; when the Marine somehow fell overboard I had just come on board from a shooting expedition, and my pockets were full of cartridges. I dived after the man and seized him. Catching the end of a coil of rope I went down and down, wondering if the other end of the rope I held was fast, until at last I felt myself and the Marine being pulled upwards. As we came to the surface the ship's corporal, who had jumped overboard, got hold of us, and we were hauled in-board by the quartermaster.

The story was received with great enthusiasm, and I cannot but suppose it contributed to win the election for my friend, none the less because there was no real connection whatever between its subject and politics.

Upon my return from Egypt in 1885, I was convinced of the superiority in guns and armour and general excellence of the French ships of war over our own, because I had utilised many opportunities of comparing the vessels of {338} the two navies. Observation and reasoning had also taught me that in many most essential respects the British Navy was deficient. And above all, it was deficient in organisation for war. In these opinions I was confirmed by a large number of my brother officers, among whom I may mention Lord Alcester, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Henry Keppel, Admiral Sir Thomas M. C. Symonds, Admiral Sir Geoffrey T. Phipps Hornby, Captain E. R. Fremantle, Admiral Sir Charles G. J. B. Elliot, Vice-Admiral Sir William Montagu Dowell, Vice-Admiral Sir R. Vesey Hamilton.

Accordingly, I enforced the necessity of reform in these matters in my public speeches, which were numerous. At that time, in the summer of 1885, I find that I was demanding a loan of twenty millions to be expended upon a shipbuilding programme.

During the previous year, 1884, there had appeared in the Pall Mall Gazette, then edited by the late Mr. W. T. Stead, the famous series of articles over the signature of "One who knows the Facts," dealing with the state of the Navy, which did more than any other Press representations before or since to awaken public opinion to the true condition of our defences. It was those articles, together with articles in The Times and other newspapers, and the excellent letters of naval officers—notably those of Admiral of the Fleet Sir T. Symonds—which prepared the way for me.

International relations with both France and Russia were uneasy; and war was always a possibility. I knew that we were unprepared for war. I knew that so long as there was no department charged with the duty of representing what was required, why it was required, and how much it would cost, that we should continue to be unprepared for war. I believed it to be my duty to awaken public opinion to the danger in which the country undoubtedly stood.

Nor was I alone in this respect. Not only a number of brother officers, but many students of the subject, did {339} their best to enlighten the nation. We were of course told that we were creating a scare; but a study of the Press of those days shows that nearly every great newspaper, irrespective of its politics, demanded the strengthening and reorganisation of our defences. Personally, I received great support from the Press. Writers on the subject of national defence were at least sure that I had, personally, nothing to gain by publishing the truth.

Indeed, I had thus early in my career, when I was a junior captain, to choose between the stormy enterprise of the reformer, and the safer course of official acquiescence and party obedience, leading to promotion and to office. In making the choice, I had to consider that as a naval officer advocating this and that in spite of the authorities, I laid myself open to the charge that such matters were none of my business, which was to obey orders. The argument is quite legitimate. On the other hand, knowing the facts of the case, clearly perceiving the danger, and (as I believed) knowing also how to remedy what was wrong, I might (and did) justly contend that my duty to Sovereign and country came before all. I admit that these things were not necessarily my business; not, at least, until I made them my business. But I may also remark that the deplorable condition of the national defences in 1885 was the result of the united negligence of the people whose business it was to maintain them, and who had no department which could supply them with the necessary information; and that, in consequence, someone had to do something. The history of England was made by persons who did what it was not their business to do, until they made it their business.

My difficulties were then, and have always been, inherent in the nature of the case. It is part of the character of the English people to trust in authority, as such; and they are quite right in principle; whose observance, however, induces them to be slow to act when authority has proved untrustworthy. Again, in order that my case should be proved beyond cavil, the supreme demonstration of war was required. It is not {340} enough that because my recommendations were carried into execution, war was prevented; for only the few who know the facts and who are acquainted with the complex shifts of international policy, understand the value of potential armed force in the exercise of diplomacy. I may claim, indeed, I do claim, that sooner or later my recommendations have been adopted by the authorities, who thereby proved the justice of my case. Nor do I complain because they have gained the credit accruing to their action; for it must always be the man who does the thing who earns the laurel. And he who insists upon assuming the office of reformer, must make up his mind at the beginning to renounce without bitterness whatever delight he might discover in reward or fame or renown. Moreover, the credit belongs to no one man, but to the many fearless officers who urged reform, and not less to the great body of those officers of the Service who silently and loyally kept the routine going, and without whom no reforms could avail.

The whole position is of course quite illogical; as illogical as that venerable anomaly, the British Constitution, which exists entirely in the brains of the learned. A certain set of persons are selected to govern the nation by a majority of votes, those votes being allocated upon an accidental system which gives to a small number exactly the same representation as an immensely larger number. Out of that set a few are selected to form a governing committee called the Cabinet, which is virtually omnipotent so long as it continues to act more or less in accordance with the wishes of the majority which elected it. The Cabinet is, therefore, in practice, constrained to act in accordance with the known opinions of its supporters; a course of action which is a totally different thing from the course which it is theoretically supposed to follow. Theoretically, the Cabinet shapes its policy to ensure the welfare of the whole nation. Theoretically, the business of the Government is to govern. Theoretically, its members are the men in the country best fitted for the work. Sometimes they are; and in proportion as they are, they will {341} approximate to the conventional theory and will depart from the common practice, and will do what is right instead of what is expedient. Thus every Government oscillates between pure opportunism and honest patriotism. And in the result, the only method of obtaining reform in any direction is so to persuade the public of its necessity, that the party in power will perceive that it is more to their own profit to grant than to withhold it. And in justice to the politicians, it should be added that under the existing system, many concessions must be made by the most austere statesman, if the Duke of Wellington's ultimate principle is to be observed; the principle that the King's Government must be carried on.

In July, 1884, Lord Northbrook, the First Lord of the Admiralty in Mr. Gladstone's administration, publicly declared that if he had £3,000,000 to spend upon the Navy, that force was so sufficient and so efficient that he would not know on what to spend the money. Before the end of the year he was compelled to find out how to spend £5,500,000, and to spend them. From a Liberal Government the Salisbury Government of 1886 inherited the completing of the Northbrook shipbuilding programme; whose provisions were based, not upon any intelligible scheme of preparation for war but, upon the Russian war-scare. Those who were acquainted with the real posture of affairs were not deluded by the mere haphazard expenditure of a few millions, voted in order to soothe public opinion.

Nor did ministers themselves deny the total inadequacy of their measures. In March, 1886, when the Liberal administration was still in power, I brought forward in the House of Commons an amendment empowering the Government to expend an additional sum of over £5,000,000 upon the construction of 35 cruisers, three armoured cruisers, and 21 torpedo craft; pointing out at the same time that the expenditure would provide employment for a large number of unemployed workmen, both skilled and unskilled. Of course the amendment was defeated; but it is significant that {342} the necessity of such an increase was virtually admitted by the Government spokesmen. I also urged the abolition of 69 useless vessels of war, which I specified, and the expenditure of the money saved in their maintenance, upon new vessels.

At that time, it was nearly impossible to obtain accurate official information with regard to naval affairs. I asked for a return of the relative strength of the Fleets of this and other countries; which was granted; and which aroused considerable comment in the Press. The return has since been issued every year; first in my name, then in the name of Sir Charles Dilke, and at present in the name of Mr. Dickenson.

But the first half of the year 1886 was consumed with the Home Rule Bill. Turn to the files of the time, and you shall see precisely the same arguments, declarations, denunciations, intrigues and rumours of intrigues, charges and counter-charges which were repeated in 1893, and which are being reiterated all over again as if they had just been discovered, in this year of grace 1913. We who stood to our guns in 1886 know them by heart. We have been denounced as traitors and rebels because we stand by Ulster, for so long, that we are beginning to think we shall escape hanging at the latter end of it.

I know my countrymen, both of north and south, for I am of both; and they know me. Isaac Butt once asked me to lead the Home Rule party; because, he said, my brother Waterford was widely respected and popular, and was thoroughly acquainted with the Irish question, of which I also had a sufficient knowledge. I might have accepted the invitation, had I believed that Home Rule was what my countrymen needed. But it was not. The settlement of the land question was and is the only cure for Irish ills. Mr. Wyndham with his Land Act did more for Ireland than any Government that ever was; and I say it, who have lost a great part of my income under the operation of the Act.

Not that the Irish would have obtained the Wyndham Act, had they not been incorrigibly intractable. By {343} demanding a great deal more than they wanted, which they called Home Rule, they got what they did want, which was the land. Their avidity for the land never diminished; whereas the cry for Home Rule died down; until, by one of the inconsistencies of Irish politics which so bewilder the Englishman, it was revived by John Finton Lalor and Michael Davitt, who welded the two aspirations together. In order to rid themselves of the Home Rule spectre, the English Government conceded the land. And then, owing to another unexpected twist, they found the spectre wasn't laid after all. For the English had not learned that so long as they permit Ireland to be so superbly over-represented, so long will they have trouble. Sure, they'll learn the lesson some day, if God will; for there's no lack of teaching, the way it is. In the meantime, it is hard for the English people to argue against what appears to be the demand of the majority of the Irish people.

But so far was the Government in power in 1912 from understanding or attempting to understand Irishmen, that the defence of the Home Rule Bill was constantly relegated to two eminent descendants of an interesting Asiatic race; who, however distinguished in their own walk of life, could never in any circumstances know or care anything whatsoever about Ireland. The Ulstermen, at least, resented the proceeding.

One of the Nationalists attacked me with great ferocity in the House. He accused my family for generations past of having committed atrocious crimes, and asserted that I myself had entered Parliament for the sole purpose of escaping active service in case of war with a foreign Power.

"Why did you say all those things?" said I to him in the lobby afterwards.

"Sure, Lord Char-less," says he, "ye're an Irishman, and ye'll understand I didn't mean a word of it."

Mr. Gladstone's Home Rule Bill having been rejected in 1886, Lord Salisbury returned to power with a majority that defied Mr. Parnell and his friends, and so there was no {344} more Home Rule for a while. 'Tis the pure morality of the Home Rule demand that moves the political conscience; and that the morality always acts upon that sensitive organ when there is a controlling Irish vote, and not at any other time, is of course a mere coincidence.

In August, 1886, I was appointed junior lord at the Admiralty, succeeding Captain James E. Erskine.

"No doubt you'll try to do a number of things, but you'll run up against a dead wall. Your sole business will be to sign papers," said Captain Erskine, and so departed.

I speedily discovered that there was at the Admiralty no such thing as organisation for war. It was not in the distribution of business. Lest I should seem to exaggerate, I quote the testimony of the late Sir John Briggs, Reader to the Lords and Chief Clerk of the Admiralty. Referring to the period with which I am dealing, Sir John Briggs writes as follows (Naval Administrations, 1827 to 1892. Sampson Low. 1897):

"During my Admiralty experience of forty-four years, I may safely affirm that no measures were devised, nor no practical arrangements thought out, to meet the numerous duties which devolve upon the Admiralty, and which at once present themselves at the very beginning of a war with a first-class naval Power; on the contrary, there had been unqualified apprehension on the mere rumour of war, especially among the naval members, arising from their consciousness of the inadequacy of the Fleet to meet the various duties it would be required to discharge in such an eventuality."

The fact was that after Trafalgar this country had attained to so supreme a dominance upon all seas, with so high a degree of sea-training acquired in independent commands, that organisation for war was taken for granted. We were living on the Nelson tradition. The change came with the advent of steam, which altered certain essential conditions of sea warfare. The use of steam involved a new organisation. Other nations recognised its necessity. We {345} did not. Nor was it that the distinguished naval officers composing successive Boards of Admiralty neglected their duty, for organisation for war did not form part of their duty, as they conceived it. Moreover, they were wholly occupied with the vast labour of routine business, which developed upon them when the old Navy Board was abolished. The Navy Board, in the old wars, was charged with the provision of all matters of supply, leaving the Lords Commissioners free to conduct war.

That there existed no department charged with the duty of constantly representing what was required in ships, men, stores, docks, under peace conditions, or what would be required under war conditions, was obvious enough. But in the course of the execution of my duties as junior lord, it immediately became equally clear that the Navy was deficient in those very matters and things concerning which it would have been the business of such a department to report. Among them was coal, which was in my charge. Not only was there an immense deficiency in the war reserve of coal, but there was no plan for supplying it.

What my friends used to call my "craze," which they regarded as an amiable form of lunacy, for organisation for war, showed me that without it, all naval force, though it were twice as powerful, would be practically wasted in the event of emergency.

I went to the First Lord and asked him if it would be in order for me to draw up a memorandum on any subject to be laid before the Board. Lord George Hamilton, with his invariable courtesy, replied that any such paper would be gladly considered.

Within six weeks of my appointment to the Admiralty, I had drawn my Memorandum on War Organisation calling attention to the necessity of creating a Naval Intelligence Department at the Admiralty.

In that document, it was represented:

1. That although recent events had revealed approximately our deficiencies in the event of war with a {346} second-rate maritime Power, no measures had been taken to prepare a plan showing how the requirements were to be met.

2. That other countries possessed departments charged with the duty of preparing plans of campaign and of organising their every detail so that they could be instantly carried into execution.

3. That the deficiencies in the numbers of the personnel known to be required, were such and such.

4. That the Medical stores were deficient in such and such respects. (They were kept in bulk, so that in the event of war, the medical stores would have had to be selected and distributed: a system I was able to alter.)

5. That there existed no organisation of any kind with regard to the use of merchant shipping in war for the transport of coal, ammunition, and stores, and for hospital ships.

6. That there existed no organisation for rapidly mobilising the reserves.

7. That in order rightly to fulfil these requirements, there must be designed plans of campaign to meet all probable contingencies.

8. That in order to obtain such plans of campaign, there should be created a new department charged with the duty of drawing them up.

There followed a detailed scheme for a new Intelligence Department, at an increased expense of no more than £2251.

The Memorandum concluded as follows:

"1. Can it be denied that the gravest and most certain danger exists to the country if the facts stated in this paper are true?

"2. Can it be denied that these facts are true?

"3. If not, should not immediate steps be taken to minimise the danger?"

The Memorandum was laid before the Board. My colleagues came to the unanimous conclusion that my statements were exaggerated; and also that, as a junior, I was {347} meddling with high matters which were not my business; as indeed I was. Having been thus defeated, I asked the permission of Lord George Hamilton to show the Memorandum to Lord Salisbury, and received it.

Lord Salisbury very kindly read the document then and there from beginning to end. He pointed out to me that, on the face of it, I lacked the experience required to give force to my representations, and that I had not even commanded a ship of war in a Fleet.

"You must have more experience, on the face of it," he repeated.

And he observed that, practically, what I was asking him to do, was to set my opinion above the opinion of my senior officers at the Admiralty, and their predecessors.

I replied that, since he put the matter in that way, although it might sound egotistical, I did ask him to do that very thing; but I begged him, before deciding that I was in the wrong, to consult with three admirals, whom I named.

A week later, I saw Lord Salisbury again. He told me that in my main contentions, I was right; that he was sure I should be glad to hear that the three admirals had agreed with them; and that the Board of Admiralty had decided to form a new department upon the lines I had suggested.

The new Naval Intelligence Department was then formed.

The Director was Captain William H. Hall. His assistants were Captain R. N. Custance (now Admiral Sir Reginald N. Custance, K.C.B., K.C.M.G.) and Captain S. M. Eardley-Wilmot (now Rear-Admiral Sir S. M. Eardley-Wilmot).

There was already in existence a Foreign Intelligence Committee, whose business it was to collect information concerning the activities of foreign naval Powers. In my scheme the new department was an extension of the Foreign Intelligence Committee, which was to form Section 1, while {348} the duties of Section 2 were "To organise war preparations, including naval mobilisation and the making out of plans for naval campaigns to meet all the contingencies considered probable in a war with different countries, corrected frequently and periodically." The whole of the department was to be placed under an officer of flag rank; a part of my recommendations which was not carried into effect until 1912, when the War Staff was instituted at the Admiralty.

It will be observed that, although I designated the new department the Intelligence Department, it was in fact planned to combine Intelligence duties proper with the duties of a War Staff. What I desired was a department which reported "frequently and periodically" upon requirements. But as it was impossible to know what those requirements would be without plans of campaign which specified them, the same department was charged with the duty of designing such plans.

In the result, that particular and inestimably important office was gradually dropped. The department became an Intelligence Department alone. The First Sea Lord was charged with the duty of preparation and organisation for war. After various changes in the distribution of business, it was again discovered that there was no organisation for war; that the First Sea Lord, though (as I said in 1886) he had a head as big as a battleship, could not accomplish the work by himself; and a War Staff, affiliated to the Intelligence Department, was constituted in 1912.

In other words, twenty-six years elapsed before my scheme was carried into full execution.

On the 13th October, 1886, the substance of my confidential Memorandum on Organisation for War was published in the Pall Mall Gazette. It was stolen from the Admiralty by an Admiralty messenger, who was employed by both the First Sea Lord and myself. The contents of several other confidential documents having been published, suspicion fell upon the messenger, and a snare was laid for {349} him. An electric contact was made with a certain drawer in the desk of the First Sea Lord, communicating with an alarm in another quarter of the building. Upon leaving his room, the First Sea Lord told the messenger to admit no one during his absence, as he had left unlocked a drawer containing confidential documents. A little after, the alarm rang, and the messenger was discovered seated at the desk, making a copy of the documents in question. He was arrested, brought to trial, and sentenced.



In January, 1887, my routine work at the Admiralty was varied by a trip in the new submarine Nautilus to the bottom of Tilbury Dock, which was very nearly the last voyage of the party in this world. The owners of the boat, Mr. Edward Wolseley and Mr. C. E. Lyon, had invited several guests, among whom was Mr. William White (afterwards Sir William Henry White, K.C.B., F.R.S., etc.), together with some officials of the Admiralty. The theory was that by pushing air cylinders to project from each side of the boat, her buoyancy would be so increased that she would rise to the surface. We sank gently to the bottom and stayed there. The cylinders were pushed out, and still we remained there. I was looking through the glass scuttle, and, although in a submarine the motion or rising or sinking is not felt by those within, I knew that we had not moved, because I could see that the muddy particles suspended in the water remained stationary. The Thames mud had us fast. In this emergency, I suggested rolling her by moving the people quickly from side to side. The expedient succeeded, none too soon; for by the time she came to the surface, the air was very foul.

During the same month, Mr. William White, Chief Constructor to the Admiralty, read a paper at the Mansion House dealing with the design of modern men-of-war, which marked an era in shipbuilding. Sir William White restored to the ship of war that symmetry and beauty of design which {351} had been lost during the transition from sails to steam. The transition vessels were nightmares. Sir William White designed ships. A man of genius, of a refined and beautiful nature, a loyal servant of the Admiralty, to which he devoted talents which, applied outside the Service, would have gained him wealth, his recent death was a great loss to his country. The later Victorian Navy is his splendid monument: and it may yet be that history will designate those noble ships as the finest type of steam vessels of war.

About the same time, I brought forward another motion in the House of Commons, to abolish obsolete vessels, of which I specified fifty-nine, and to utilise the money saved in their maintenance, in new construction. The scheme was carried into execution by degrees.

In June of 1887, I invited a large party of members of the House of Commons to visit Portsmouth, where they were shown something of the Navy.

In December of the same year, speaking in public, I affirmed the following principles: that in time of war our frontiers were the ports of the enemy; that our main fleets could be required to watch those ports; and that the strength of the Fleet required should be calculated upon the basis of the work it would be required to perform. I also urged that the line of communications should be instituted, by means of establishing a system of signalling between the ships of the Navy and the ships of the mercantile marine, and between all ships and the shore. At that time there was no such system.

The Press and the public received the exposition of these elementary principles of organisation for war as a complete novelty; by many they were welcomed like a revelation; circumstances which exemplify the general ignorance prevailing at the time.

Of even more significance were the official declarations on the subject. The First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord George Hamilton, had publicly stated in November, 1886, that this country had more ships in commission than the {352} three other European Naval Powers next in order of strength. The statement was correct; but among the ships in commission were included many vessels of no fighting value, such as the Indus, Asia and Duke of Wellington. As an estimate of comparative fighting strength, the statement, like many another official statement before and since, required qualification; as I remarked in the House of Commons in the course of my reply to Lord George Hamilton.

In December, 1886, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Randolph Churchill, suddenly resigned. He afterwards explained that his resignation was a protest against extravagance and waste in the administration of the Services. There were extravagance and waste; but, in my view, which I represented to Lord Randolph, it would take several years to reform the administration, and it was far more important to set right our defences, even if their administration cost more in the meantime.

I recall these things because they serve to illustrate the trend of events. On the one side were the Government and their official advisers at the Admiralty, convinced that all was very well as it was. On the other side, were the rapid development of the fighting ship in all countries, which owing to Mr. W. H. White, was particularly marked in this country; the greatly increased public interest in naval affairs; and the constant representations of a number of naval officers, myself among them, to the effect that great reforms were urgently required.

We believed that there existed at the Board of Admiralty no system of direct responsibility; that Parliament and the nation had no means either of ascertaining upon what principle the money was expended upon our defences or of affixing responsibility whether it were expended ill or well; that there existed no plan of campaign at the Admiralty; that the Navy and the Army had no arrangement for working together in the event of war; and that, in point of fact, the Navy was dangerously inadequate. And in attempting to achieve reform, we were confronted {353} by a solid breastwork, as though built of bales of wool, of official immovability. Had it been a hard obstacle, we might have smashed it.

Towards the end of 1887, the Admiralty did a very foolish thing. They decided to cut down the salaries of the officers of the new Intelligence Department by £950. In my view, this proceeding both involved a breach of faith with the officers concerned, and would be highly injurious to the efficiency of the department for whose success I felt peculiarly responsible. My protests were, however, disregarded; the First Lord asserted his supreme authority; and the thing was done.

The efficiency of the whole Service was, in my view, bound up with the efficiency of the Intelligence Department; because that department was created for the express purpose of estimating and reporting what was required to enable the Navy to fulfil its duties. It was in view of the main question of the necessity of strengthening the Fleet, that I decided to resign my position upon the Board of Admiralty, and to declare publicly my reasons for so doing. On the 9th January, 1888, I sent my resignation to Lord Salisbury; who, courteously expressing his regret, accepted it on 18th January.

In making my decision to take this extreme action, I was influenced by the conviction that nothing short of the resignation of a member of the Board of Admiralty would induce the authorities to reorganise and strengthen our defences. Whether or not I was right in that belief, I do not know to this day; but, as the strengthening of the Fleet was shortly afterwards carried into execution in precise accordance with my recommendations, there is some evidence in my favour. My constituents in East Marylebone were strongly adverse to my course of action. Many of my friends begged me not to resign. General Buller, in particular, pointed out to me that no good was ever done by an officer resigning his post, because the officer who resigned ceased by his own act to occupy the position which entitled {354} him to a hearing. I daresay he was right. At any rate, I was well aware that I was jeopardising my whole career. For an officer to resign his seat upon the Board of Admiralty in order to direct public attention to abuses, is to commit, officially speaking, the unpardonable sin. When, three or four years later, Sir Frederick Richards, the First Sea Lord, threatened to resign if the Government would not accept his shipbuilding programme, although I am certain he would have pursued exactly the same course had he stood alone, he had the support of the rest of the Board. I had the rest of the Sea Lords against me. That is a different affair. A united Board of Admiralty can generally in the last resort prevail against the Government. A single member of that Board who attempts the same feat, knows, at least, that never again will he be employed at the Admiralty. But when Sir Frederick Richards and his colleagues threatened resignation, they were in fact risking the loss of employment and incurring the possibility of spending the rest of their lives in comparative penury. A later Liberal administration has dismissed one Naval Lord after another, without a scruple.

In my case, I had the advantage of possessing a private income, so that I was independent of the Service as a means of livelihood. It is necessary to speak plainly upon this matter of resignation. It is most unfair to expect naval officers to resign in the hope of bringing about reform, when by so doing their income is greatly reduced. If the British public desire it to be understood that a Sea Lord is expected to resign should the Government in power fail to make what he believes to be the necessary provision for the national security, then the public must insist that the Sea Lords be granted an ample retiring allowance.

In the following February (1888) Lord George Hamilton made a speech at Ealing, in which he dealt with my protests in the most courteous manner. He stated that I had resigned because I objected to the exercise of the supreme authority of the First Lord over the Board of Admiralty. I had certainly objected to its exercise in a particular instance. {355} And at that time I was constantly urging that Parliament and the country had a right to know who was responsible for the actions of the Admiralty. My theory was that there should be some means by which Parliament and the public should be assured that any given course of action was founded upon professional advice. That no such means existed was notorious. It was within the legal right of a First Lord to announce a policy contravening or modifying the views of the rest of the Board.

My view was, and is, the view tersely stated by Admiral Phipps Hornby, who said that it was the right of the Cabinet to formulate a policy, and that it was the duty of the Sea Lords to provide what was required in order to carry that policy into execution; but that the Cabinet had no right whatever to dictate to the Sea Lords in what the provision should consist, for that was a matter of which the Sea Lords alone were competent to judge.

But if the Board of Admiralty be placed under the supreme jurisdiction of the First Lord, a civilian and a politician, the country has no means of knowing whether or no the recommendations of the Sea Lords are being carried into execution. I said at the time that some such means should be instituted; afterwards, perceiving that no such demand would be granted, I urged that the Cabinet at least ought to be precisely informed what were the requirements stated by the Sea Lords to be necessary in order to carry into execution the policy of the Government.

In claiming supreme authority as First Lord over the Board of Admiralty, Lord George Hamilton was legally and constitutionally in the right. The Royal Commission on the administration of the Navy and Army, over which Lord Hartington presided, reported in 1890 (when I was at sea) that the Admiralty had long ceased to be administered in accordance with the terms of its original Patent, and that "the present system of administration in the Admiralty is the result of Parliamentary action upon what was once in fact as well as name an executive and administrative {356} Board. The responsibility, and consequently the power of the First Lord has continually increased, and he is at present practically the Minister of Marine." In other words, by slow degrees the politician had transferred the powers of the Board to himself, where they remain; the other members of the Board becoming merely his advisers. The result is that there is nothing, except the personal influence of the Naval Lords upon the First Lord, to prevent the Navy from being governed in accordance with party politics, without reference to national and Imperial requirements; a system which produces intermittent insecurity and periodical panics involving extravagant expense.

The Commissioners also found that there was a difference of opinion among the Naval Lords themselves concerning their responsibility with regard to the strength and efficiency of the Fleet. It was, in a word, nobody's business to state what were the requirements of the Fleet. The First Lord might ask for advice, if he chose, in which case he would get it. If he did not so choose, there was no one whose duty it was to make representations on the subject. Admiral Sir Arthur Hood stated that never in the whole course of his experience had he known a scheme comprehending the naval requirements of the Empire to be laid before the Board. He also stated that the method of preparing the Navy Estimates was that the First Lord stated what sum the Cabinet felt disposed to grant for the Navy, and that the Naval Lords then proceeded to get as much value for their money as they could.

No wonder the Sea Lords were expected to sign the Estimates without looking at them. When I was junior lord, responsible for the provision of coal and stores among other trifles, a clerk came into my room with a sheaf of papers in one hand and a wet quill pen in the other.

"Will you sign the Estimates?" says he.

"What?" said I.

"Will you sign the Estimates for the year?" he repeated.

"My good man," I said, "I haven't seen them."


The clerk looked mildly perturbed. He said:

"The other Lords have signed them, sir. It will be very inconvenient if you do not."

"I am very sorry," said I. "I am afraid I am inconvenient in this office already. But I certainly shall not sign the Estimates."

The clerk's countenance betrayed consternation.

"I must tell the First Lord, sir," said he, as one who presents an ultimatum.

"I don't care a fig whom you tell," said I. "I can't sign the Estimates, because I have not read them."

Nor did I sign them. They were brought before the House of Commons without my signature. The First Lord said it did not really matter. My point was that I would not take responsibility for a document I had not seen. The fact was, that the custom of obtaining the signatures of the Board is a survival of the time when the Sea Lords wielded the power and responsibility conferred upon them by the original Patent.

The Commissioners also reported that the lack of "sufficient provision for the consideration by either Service of the wants of the other" ... was an "unsatisfactory and dangerous condition of affairs."

Here, then, were all the points for which my brother officers and myself were contending, and in order to illuminate which I had resigned, explicitly admitted. But the proofs did not appear until a year after my resignation took effect, when the Select Committee on the Navy Estimates began to take evidence; nor were they published for another year.

In the meantime, the naval reformers fought as best they might. Freed from the restraint necessarily imposed upon me by my official position at the Admiralty, I was able to devote my whole energies to making known the real state of affairs.

Upon the introduction of the Navy Estimates of 1888-9 I challenged the votes for shipbuilding, the Secretary's {358} Department, the Intelligence Department, the Reserve of merchant cruisers, the Royal Naval Reserve and naval armaments, in order to call attention to requirements.

In the course of the debates, the official formula was: "At no time was the Navy more ready or better organised for any work which it might be called upon to do than to-day." My reply was that these words "have rung in our ears as often as the tune 'Britannia rules the waves,' and have been invariably falsified when war appeared imminent." And who would have to do the work? The officials who said that all was ready, or the admirals who said that all was unready?

In May, a meeting to consider the needs of national defence was held in the City, at which I delivered an address. Speaking at the Lord Mayor's banquet in November, the First Lord admitted that there might be room for improvement in the Navy. It was a dangerous, if a candid, admission. For if the Navy were not strong enough, how weak was it?

Exactly how weak it was in June, 1888, in the opinion of the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Arthur Hood, was explained by him before the Select Committee on Navy Estimates (13th June, 1888). "I should have preferred by the end of 1890 to have had six more fast cruisers. I do not consider it a point of vital importance," said Admiral Hood. But as, upon his own showing, within his recollection no one at the Admiralty had ever produced a scheme comprehending the naval requirements of the Empire, his view was hardly conclusive. I had the audacity to consider that if no one had ever attempted, or thought of attempting, to estimate the requirements of the naval defence of the Queen's dominions, it was time that some one did attempt to do so, even if that some one were myself. Accordingly, I made a careful calculation of the work the Fleet might under probable contingencies be required to perform, and upon that calculation based an estimate of the classes and numbers of ships which would be needed.


I showed my estimate to Admiral Hornby, who said that, although the ships were absolutely necessary, I was asking too much and I should in consequence get nothing. He also pointed out that I had made no provision for the increase of personnel required to man the proposed new ships. I replied that if the ships were laid down, the authorities would be obliged to find the men for them. The sequel showed that I was wrong and that Admiral Hornby was right. He knew his responsible authority better than I did. Six years later, when what should have been the increased personnel would have been trained and available, the Fleet was short of 20,000 men.

My cousin, General Sir Reginald Talbot, reminds me of a conversation which befell between Mr. Goschen, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, and myself, in November of the same year, 1888, when we were staying at Wilton, the house of my cousin, Lady Pembroke. Mr. Goschen began to talk about the Navy, and he was so good as to express high disapproval of my course of action. He said I was doing a great deal of harm, that I was presuming to set my rash opinion above the considered judgment of old and distinguished officers who had commanded ships before I was born, and so forth.

"Do you know what I am shortly going to propose to Parliament?" said I. "No? I'll tell you. I am going to ask for seventy ships to cost twenty million sterling."

Mr. Goschen became really angry. He said the notion was preposterous.

"You won't get them," he said. "You wouldn't get even three ships, if you asked for them. And for a very simple reason. They are not wanted."

"Mr. Goschen," said I, "I shall bring in that programme, and it will cost twenty million; and you will all object to it and oppose it; and yet I'll venture to make a prophecy. Before very long you will order seventy ships at the cost of twenty million. And for a very simple reason. Because you must."


On the 13th December, 1888, speaking on Vote 8 (ship-building, repairs and maintenance), I expounded my ship-building programme to the House of Commons. I based it upon the following principles:

"The existence of the Empire depends upon the strength of the Fleet, the strength of the Fleet depends upon the Shipbuilding Vote.... I maintain the Shipbuilding Vote is based on no policy, no theory, no business-like or definite idea whatever, to enable it to meet the requirements of the country, the primary object of its expenditure.... I hold that the Government, which is and must be solely responsible, should first lay down a definite standard for the Fleet, which standard should be a force capable of defending our shores and commerce, together with the punctual and certain delivery of our food supply, against the Fleets of two Powers combined, one of which should be France; and that the experts should then be called together and say what is necessary to get that standard, and give the reasons for their statement...."

The programme included four first-class ironclads, 10 second-class ironclads, 40 cruisers of various classes, and torpedo craft: 70 vessels in all, to be built at a cost of £20,100,000.

I also affirmed the proposition made by Admiral Sir Anthony Hoskins, the Secretary of the Admiralty, and the Civil Lord, to the effect that "the British Fleet should be more than a match for the combined fleets of any two European Powers that were likely to be our foes, one of which must necessarily be France." Here, so far as I am aware, was the first definite demand for the Two-Power Standard; which was maintained until it was abandoned by the Government which came into power in 1906.


Lord George Hamilton received my proposals with caution. He was "far from saying it (the Fleet) was strong enough." And he told the House that next year he hoped {361} to lay before the House a larger and more comprehensive programme than was provided by the current estimates, "desiring that when they moved their movement should be genuine and prolonged."

Twelve weeks later, Lord George Hamilton brought in a shipbuilding programme consisting of 70 vessels, to be built at a cost of £21,500,000.

Yet nothing had happened since the previous June, when Sir Arthur Hood declared that he would have preferred six more cruisers, but that they were not of vital importance?

Nothing, that is to say, with regard to the international situation, and the increase of foreign navies, and the requirements of Imperial defence. But several things had happened at home. Of the most important of these, I knew nothing until many years afterwards. It was that Captain W. H. Hall, Director of the new Intelligence Department, whose institution I had recommended for this very purpose, had worked out the problem of naval requirements independently, and, with all the sources of information available in the Admiralty at his command, had arrived at precisely the same result (except for an increase of cost) as that to which I had arrived, without the information possessed by Captain Hall. I may mention here that Captain Hall was a most distinguished and patriotic officer, with whom no considerations of personal interest ever weighed for an instant against what he conceived to be his duty to his Sovereign and to his country. What happened at the Admiralty when his report was laid before the Board, I do not know, as I never had any communication with Captain Hall on the subject. All I know is that his scheme, which was identical with the scheme which I had presented to the House, was accepted by the First Lord.

Another circumstance which may have influenced the Government was the very remarkable evidence, which I have already summarised, given before the Select Committee on the Navy Estimates. And another factor, of enduring import, was the famous Report of the Three Admirals: {362} Admiral Sir William Dowell, K.C.B., Admiral Sir R. Vesey Hamilton, K.C.B., and Vice-Admiral Sir Frederick Richards, K.C.B., on the Naval Manoeuvres of 1888, presented to both Houses of Parliament in February, 1889. Sir Frederick Richards was mainly responsible for drawing up that masterly document, which, extending beyond its terms of reference, formulated the principles of British sea-power; and definitely affirmed the absolute necessity for establishing and maintaining the Two-Power Standard.

With reference to the condition of the Navy at the time, the Three Admirals reported that the Navy was "altogether inadequate to take the offensive in a war with only one Great Power"; and that "supposing a combination of even two Powers to be allied as her enemies, the balance of maritime strength would be against England."

How swiftly is the false coin of "official assurances" consumed by the acid of professional knowledge! The whole episode of the Twenty-One Million is so typical of the methods of British governance, that I have thought it worth while to relate it somewhat at length. Those methods, in a word, consist in the politicians very nearly losing the Empire, and the Navy saving it just in time. The same thing happened all over again in 1892. It occurred again 1909, with a difference. Both in 1892 and in 1909 I drew up shipbuilding proposals. In 1892, the Government eventually adopted the Spencer programme, which was actually larger than mine. In 1909, the opportunity of restoration was lost; and the failure cost, and will cost, the country many millions.

One of these days we shall be hit, and hit hard, at the moment when the politicians have been found out, and before the Navy has had time to recover.

Something to this effect was said to me by Bismarck, when I visited him, in February, 1889. In truth, I had a little wearied of the polite and stubborn opposition of my own people, and I went to Berlin to see what was happening abroad. Prince Bismarck invited me to lunch.


Bismarck said that he could not understand why my own people did not listen to me (nor could I!); for (said he) the British Fleet was the greatest factor for peace in Europe. We had a most interesting conversation upon matters of defence and preparation for war; and his tone was most friendly towards the English. He very kindly presented me with his signed photograph. I stayed with him for two hours; and we drank much beer; and all the time his gigantic boar-hound, lying beside him, stared fixedly at me with a red and lurid eye.




"Undaunteds be ready,
Undaunteds be steady,
Undaunteds stand by for a job!"
                Bugle call of H.M.S. Undaunted

It was invented by the first lieutenant, William Stokes Rees (now Vice-Admiral W. S. Rees, C.B.), who was one of the best gunnery officers I have known. I was appointed to the command of the Undaunted in November, 1889. The commander was Robert S. Lowry (now Vice-Admiral Sir Robert S. Lowry, K.C.B.). It was the Undaunted's first commission. She was a twin-screw, first-class armoured cruiser of 5600 tons displacement and 8500 h.p., ordered to join the Mediterranean Fleet, under the command of Vice-Admiral Sir Anthony H. Hoskins, K.C.B. He was succeeded in September, 1891, by my old friend, Admiral Sir George Tryon, K.C.B., whose tragic death was so great a loss to the Service and to the country.

The first essential of good discipline is to make officers and men as happy and as comfortable as the exigencies of the Service permit. I believe that the Undaunted was a happy ship; I know that the loyalty, enthusiasm and hard work of the officers and men under my command earned her a good record.

In every vessel there are improvements to be made which, perhaps trifling in themselves, greatly add to the {365} welfare of the officers and ship's company. At that time, for instance, the arrangements for the stokers were so bad, that there was only one bath available for twenty men. My recommendation was that tubs of galvanised iron should be supplied, fitting one into another in nests, so that the extra baths occupied less space than the one regulation bath. I also had lockers of lattice-work supplied for the stokers' dirty clothing, instead of closed and insanitary lockers. It is true that at first the men objected to the open-work, because their pipes dropped through it. Again, the hatchway ladders were made with sharp nosings, against which the men injured their legs; and I suggested that these should be formed with rounded nosings instead. A ship of war is naturally uncomfortable; but why make it unnecessarily disagreeable? At that time, too, the rate of second-class petty officer did not exist among the stokers. The result was that if a leading stoker was disrated he was reduced to stoker. For this reason, I urged the institution of the rate of second-class petty officer stoker, a reform which was eventually instituted. Some years afterwards, the rate of second-class officer was abolished altogether, a retrograde measure which I believe to be injurious.

When a petty officer loses his rate in consequence of a mistake or a lapse, he should be enabled to recover it by good behaviour.

One of my countrymen on board, whom we will call Patrick, an able seaman of long service, perpetually failed to attain to the rating of petty officer owing to his weakness for strong waters. In other respects he was admirably qualified to rise. I sent for him, told him I would give him a chance, and made him a second-class petty officer. I believe that he succumbed once or twice, and that the commander let him off. But one fine day Patrick returned on board from leave ashore, fully attired—cap, coat, boots and socks—with the single exception of his trousers. The case having been officially reported to me, I had up the delinquent before the assembled petty officers. I made it a rule {366} not to disrate a petty officer in the presence of the ship's company.

The charge having been duly read, I asked Patrick what he had to say on the subject.

"Do you moind now, sir," says Pat, "that I was drunk the same day last year?"

I told him I did not remember anything of the sort.

"Well, sir," continued Patrick, unabashed, "to tell you the truth, 'tis my mother's birthday, and I had a drop of drink taken."

I told him that it was impossible to allow petty officers to disgrace the ship by coming on board without their trousers; that I should take away his petty officer's rate, but that I would leave him his badges.

He had three badges. Had he lost them, he would have lost his badge pay during a period of six months for each badge, so that it would take him eighteen months of "very good" conduct to regain them. In addition, he would have lost the good conduct medal, a part of his pension and a part of his gratuity on leaving the Service. The severity of the punishment in comparison with what is not perhaps a serious offence, is not always recognised by authority.

"May I say a word to you, sir?" asked Patrick, having received his sentence.

"You can say what you like," said I, "but I am afraid it won't save your rate."

"Well, sir," says he, "'tis this way, sir. If you'll think over it the way it is, I was fourteen years getting th' rate, and you'll be takin' it away from me in one moment."

Pat used to delight his audiences at the ship's concerts. He sang among other beautiful legends, the Irish ditty, "Brannagan's Pup." He led upon the stage my bull-dog, who came very sulkily. It never could be (as Pat would have said) that the concertina accompaniment began when he began. When the concertina started ahead of him, Pat shifted the bull-dog's leash to his other hand, put his hand to the side of his mouth, and staring straight upon the {367} audience, uttered the following stage direction in a furious whisper which was heard all over the ship.

"Don't you shtart that ruddy pump till I hould up me hand!"

Some years after I had left the Undaunted, arriving in a P. and O. steamer off a Chinese port, I semaphored to a man-of-war asking the captain to send me a boat, as I wished to have the pleasure of calling upon him. The coxswain of the captain's boat was no other than my old friend.

"I'm very glad to see you've kept the rate," said I. "I suppose you run straight now and keep clear of liquor?"

"Well, sir," says Paddy, "to tell you the truth, I've taken an odd toss or two since I saw you, but I've got it back again!"

He meant that he had been disrated again once or twice but had won back his rate again; indeed, he had won it back while under my command. I always told my men that if they were tried by court-martial—as the men now desire to be tried—it would go harder with them. Had Patrick been tried by court-martial, it is very unlikely that he would have got back his rate; and his deprivation, being endorsed upon his certificate, would have affected his chance of gaining employment in civil life upon leaving the Service.

I had a case of a man who, because he put his helm over the wrong way, ran into another boat, with the result that a man was drowned. The culprit was disrated; but I gave him his rate again before I left the ship. It is the personal knowledge of a man possessed by his captain which alone enables his captain to make distinctions. A court-martial must judge of the offence without personal knowledge of the character of the offender.

I had a sergeant of Marines, a man with an excellent record, a strict disciplinarian, popular among his men, who, within nine months of the expiration of his time, came aboard blind drunk and disorderly. The penalty was to be reduced to the ranks. But it is often forgotten what under {368} such circumstances that penalty involves. The non-commissioned officer loses his N.C.O.'s time and pension, his badge pay for six months, and the gratuity of his rank. It is a tremendous penalty to pay, when, except for the one mistake, he has a clean sheet all through. I had the man up before the petty officers and non-commissioned officers, explained that there were only two courses of action: either to reduce him or to let him off altogether; and told them that I intended to count his long and excellent service and exemplary character as outweighing a single failure.

Here was an exceptional case; and because it was exceptional, it was wise to depart from the rule, and to give reasons for disciplinary action. Had no explanation been given, the next man disrated or reduced might have considered that he had been unfairly treated; but he could have no such grievance, when the circumstances in which the non-commissioned officer had his punishment remitted had been made known at the time.

Ships, like men, have their weaknesses; and the weakness of our fine new steam navy consisted in the unprotected ends of our armoured vessels, in which respect they were inferior to the French ships. The section of a wooden man-of-war was, roughly speaking, V-shaped below the water-line; and when she was pierced in action, the water entering through the shot-holes ran down to the bottom of the vessel, where the extra weight, although it might sink her lower in the water, acted as additional ballast, resisting any tendency to capsize. But the section of a steel man-of-war is roughly a square, with the lower edges rounded. The protective steel deck, covering the engines, extends the whole length and width of the ship. Above the water-line there are the immense weights of armour and guns. If the ship is pierced in her unprotected ends above the steel deck, the water, entering through the holes, is held high up in the section, giving her a list, and dragging her over, so that a badly wounded ship must capsize. Such was my theory, which I set forth at length in a letter sent to the commander-in-chief, {369} Sir Anthony Hoskins. He considered the point of importance, but held that it was a matter rather for the constructor than the seaman, a view with which I did not agree.

Sir Anthony Hoskins, who was about to haul down his flag, turned the letter over to Sir George Tryon, who sent it to the Admiralty. The Admiralty, I believe, considered that, under certain conditions, the theory was correct.

Those conditions occurred on 22nd June, 1893, when the Victoria was rammed by the Camperdown off Beyrout. The Camperdown struck the flagship on the starboard bow, and in ten minutes she had capsized and sunk. As the Victoria was carrying her scuttles open, and received an injury equivalent to the damage which would be inflicted by a large shell, the conditions of an action, in which the hull would be pierced with many small holes and further wounded by heavy projectiles, were produced, with the result whose probability, if not certainty, I had indicated.

In dealing with this subject, I also represented that the French ships of the period, having a powerful fore and aft fire, might choose in time of war to fight a retreating action, in which case they could so damage the unarmoured ends of our vessels, that our vessels could not be steered, and, being forced to ease speed, would be placed at a serious disadvantage.

The Hecla, torpedo school ship in the Mediterranean, was commanded by my old friend, Captain John Durnford (now Admiral Sir John Durnford, K.C.B., D.S.O.). Together with the officers under my command, I attended the torpedo classes on board.

Captain Durnford accompanied me in the Undaunted when we conducted experiments in the dropping of mines. The mines were the clever invention of Lieutenant Ottley (now Rear-Admiral Sir Charles C. Ottley, K.C.M.G., C.B., M.V.O.). By means of an ingenious mechanical contrivance, they sank themselves to the required depth. We designed and constructed the dropping gear, rigging it abaft the propellers. The mines were dropped by hand, the ship {370} steaming at 18 knots. A certain area was fixed within which the mines were to be sown. We steamed across it at night, in thick darkness, along a narrow channel. Unable to take bearings, as the position of the scattered lights on shore was unknown, we sent out two boats carrying lights. We touched the ground once, the shock throwing Captain Durnford and myself against the rail. In four minutes all the mines were dropped without a single mistake. The experiment was also carried into execution in daylight. In those days there were no mine-laying vessels, and the Undaunted was somewhat of a pioneer in the science of mining waters at full speed.

My experience while in office at the Admiralty had led me profoundly to suspect (among other things) the adequacy of the provision for reserve ammunition. And upon making inquiries at Malta, I found that if the Undaunted in the event of war had expended the whole of her ammunition, the renewal of the supply for her main armament of 6-inch guns would (excluding practice ammunition) exhaust the whole reserve supply. There were no spare guns in reserve at all. My representations on the subject were by no means gratefully received by the Admiralty, which considered that the supply of reserve ammunition and guns was not the business of a captain. I suggested that the ammunition papers should go to every captain; an arrangement which was afterwards carried into execution. At this time I also represented (but in other quarters) the urgent necessity of building a new mole at Gibraltar, which was then not a naval but a military base, although in time of war it would be required to serve as one of the most important naval bases in the world, either for the blue water route or the narrow sea route. My representations were made with the object of inducing the Government to transform Gibraltar from a merely military fortress to a properly equipped naval base. I took soundings and drew out a scheme. The plan eventually adopted was an improvement upon mine.

It is not of course implied that I was alone in urging {371} these reforms and such as these; there were many patriotic men, both in the Service and outside it, who were engaged in the same endeavour. What I did must be taken to represent the unrequited labours of others as well. Sir George Tryon, my commander-in-chief, that splendid seaman and admirable officer, was always most sympathetic and showed to me the greatest kindness. I am proud to say that I never served under a commander-in-chief with whom I was not upon the best of terms.

Sir George Tryon having received letters from H.H. the Khedive and from the British Minister Plenipotentiary in Egypt, instructed me to proceed to Alexandria with a small squadron. H.H. the Khedive welcomed me with great cordiality, being so kind as to say that I had saved his father's life during the troubles of 1882, when the Condor kept guard over the Ramleh Palace. I remained at Alexandria for some time, being senior officer there.

In order to relieve the monotony of sea-routine, the men were landed by companies in the Mex lines, a place with which I had many interesting associations dating from 1882, for rifle practice, sleeping under canvas. The water on shore being undrinkable, the men were ordered to use the distilled water supplied daily from the ship.

Visiting the hospital tent, I thought one of the patients had cholera.

"It looks very like it," said the staff-surgeon.

"Have you been drinking the shore water?" I asked the patient.

He confessed that he had. I asked him why he had done so.

"Please, sir," said he, "the distilled water had no taste in it."

Having arranged with my old friend, Sir William Butler, commanding the garrison at Alexandria, to combine with the soldiers in field exercise, I took a landing-party ashore at Ras-el-Tin. We started early in the morning, embarking the field-guns. The seamen waded ashore with them, and {372} attacked a position held by the soldiers on the top of the hill. It looked impregnable, the ground being a steep, sandy slope covered with scrub. But the bluejackets dragged the guns up through the sand and bushes. We battled all the morning with great enjoyment; returned on board, and shifted into dry clothes in time for dinner. The benefit of such exercises is that all learn something.

In July, 1891, was held at Alexandria the great regatta, in which 26 boats of all classes were entered, including a cutter from the Portuguese sloop Fieja and Arab boats. It was on this occasion that the galley of the Undaunted ran upon the breakwater, was knocked into smithereens, and sank. By an extraordinary coincidence, she was an old boat which the Admiralty had persistently refused to replace.

Upon leaving Alexandria, the Undaunted touched a rock. We had been helping the contractor to blow up the rocks in the Borghiz Channel (a proceeding for which I was subsequently reproved) and left the harbour steering by stern marks. The staff-commander knew exactly where he was going, but by a slip of the tongue he gave the order "port" instead of "starboard," adding that he wanted to close certain buoys marking the passage. The injury to the ship was very slight, but peculiar. Her bottom was pierced, and a little fish swam into the ship. I have the fish with a small piece broken off the keel by the impact, in a bottle.

In December, 1891, the second annual regatta of the Mediterranean Fleet was held in Marmorice Bay. In the officers' race, I pulled stroke in the galley of the Undaunted, in spite of Sir George Tryon's kindly warning that my heart would give way. We beat the Australia's boat by about two seconds. In the next race, held the following year, the Australia beat us.

There were seventeen ships on the station, and 9000 men. The Undaunted won 22 prizes (12 of them, I think, first prizes) out of 29. All her ratings were regularly practised in all her boats, each boat racing against the other. In {373} order to equalise chances, the boats started in rotation, the time allowance being given at the start, instead of being calculated at the end as in yacht racing, so that the boat first across the line at the end of the course won the race. The launch, being the heaviest boat, started last, manned with four men to the midship oars, three men to the after oars, and two men to the foremost oars. The boats would often all come in together. The enthusiasm of the men was immense. At that time the island of Crete was in a state of chronic agitation, which culminated in the troubles of 1897, and their suppression by the Council of Admirals, of which Admiral Sir Robert H. Harris, who represented Great Britain with so great ability and resource, gives an excellent account in his book, From Naval Cadet to Admiral. In the meantime, Christians and Mohammedans were joyfully shooting one another, while the Turkish garrison endeavoured to keep order by shooting both parties impartially. Riding up from Suda Bay to call upon a certain distinguished Turkish Pasha, an old friend, I passed several corpses, both of Christians and Mohammedans, lying on the roadside.

"Cannot you stop these murders?" I said to the Pasha. "It is really very distressing to see so many dead bodies."

"Yes, Lord," said the Pasha (he always called me Lord). "Very sad, Lord. I am sure you must feel it very much, Lord. It must make you think you are back in your own country."

The retort was apposite enough, for moonlighting was then the joy of Ireland.

Not that the Turkish soldiers neglected musketry practice. Riding up to Canea, I was met by bullets whistling past my head. I pulled off the road, and was joined by an old Turk, who was riding a donkey and carrying a large white umbrella. Presently we perceived a pot placed in the middle of the highway, and then we came upon a party of Turkish soldiers lying in a row and firing at it; whereupon the aged Turk climbed from his donkey, rolled up his umbrella, and belaboured the soldiers with it.


I once asked my friend the Pasha why he had not ere then been promoted.

"I do not know, Lord. The Government does not know. God Almighty does not know. Even his Imperial Majesty the Sultan does not know!" quoth the Pasha.

The Undaunted visited Sorrento in 1891, when Lord Dufferin was staying there. None who had the privilege of his acquaintance will need to be reminded of the singular charm of a talented, witty and urbane personality. Lord Dufferin had the unconscious art of impressing upon those whom he met that he had been waiting all his life for that moment. The small sailing yacht, Lady Hermione, which he kept at Sorrento, was a marvel of ingenious contrivance. She was a decked boat, with a well into which the ropes and gear were led and were attached to all sorts of levers, tackles and winches, to enable her to be sailed single-handed. Lord Dufferin, accompanied by Lady Dufferin, frequently sailed her in the Bay of Naples. On one such voyage, wishing to tauten up the peak halliards, he told Lady Dufferin to heave upon a certain lever. She seized the wrong handle, and away went the anchor with 130 fathoms of chain, which ran out to the clinch. Then the rest of the equipment became really useful, Lord Dufferin rigging up purchase on purchase with it, and so heaving up the anchor. After four hours' incessant toil he succeeded in getting it berthed, and returned in a state of exhaustion.

The Lady Hermione persuaded Lord Dufferin to learn Morse and semaphore. She was moored at the foot of the cliff, beneath Lord Dufferin's hotel, from whose balcony he used to shout his orders for the day to the boy who was in charge of her, and who often misunderstood his instructions. I suggested that he should learn to communicate with his ship's company by signal, and drew up both the Morse and semaphore codes for his benefit. In six weeks he sent letters to me written in both codes; an instance of determined application. During that time he insisted on practising for so many hours every day with his wife and daughter, so {375} that at the end of it the whole family were proficient in signals.

An interesting example of the manoeuvres of those days occurred at Volo, when Captain Wilson, V.C., disguised his ship, the Sanspareil, in olive trees. The Undaunted was told off to make a torpedo attack at night in the narrow channel where lay the Sanspareil. Captain Wilson (now Admiral of the Fleet Sir A. K. Wilson, V.C., G.C.B., O.M., G.C.V.O.) had constructed a dummy ship on the side of the channel opposite to which lay the Sanspareil, completely clothed in olive trees. I sent a midshipman to cut the cable of the searchlight playing upon the entrance to the channel. The Undaunted steamed into the channel, discovered first the wrong ship, and then the right one, at which I discharged two torpedoes, which were found next morning under the bottom of the Sanspareil.

At the conclusion of all manoeuvres, Sir George Tryon invariably gave a critical lecture upon them to his officers; a method which I adopted in later years. No practice can be more useful; for, while the events are fresh in mind, it demonstrates what was wrong, and why. Often what looks wrong at first, turns out to have been a good idea. But for years all reports of manoeuvres remained locked in the Admiralty. Many of the manoeuvres were useless; but for lack of information admirals afloat continued to repeat them.

During my time in the Undaunted, my knowledge of signalling saved Captain Harry Rawson (afterwards Vice-Admiral Sir H. H. Rawson, K.C.B.) and myself a deal of trouble on one occasion. We had been out shooting all day, had missed the way, and as darkness fell, found ourselves on the wrong side of the bay in which the Fleet lay at anchor, with the prospect of a further tramp of twelve or fourteen miles. Rawson used to chaff me for doing what he called "boatswain's work."

"You always want," he used to say, "to go down to the store-room and cut off 30 fathoms of rope yourself."

To which I used to reply that I wanted to do nothing of {376} the sort; but what I did want to do was to see that a piece of 30 fathoms of rope was cut off. On the same principle, Rawson used to deride my acquaintance with signals. Now that we either had to attract the attention of the Fleet or walk for another three or four hours, I told Rawson that if I could find a shepherd's hut I would get a boat over. He did not believe me.

But we found a hut, and in the hut, an oil lamp and a bucket, out of which I constructed a signalling apparatus. I had hardly made the Undaunted pennant, when it was answered from the ship, and inside a quarter of an hour the boat waiting for us on the other side of the bay had been recalled, and another boat was rapidly approaching us. Rawson left off chaffing me after that.

It was at this time that my old friend, Captain Gerard Noel (now Admiral of the Fleet Sir G. H. U. Noel, G.C.B., K.C.M.G.), one of the smartest seamen in the Service, performed a brilliant feat of seamanship. Captain Noel commanded the twin-screw, rigged ironclad Téméraire, of 8540 tons displacement, one of the types in which sail-power was employed as well as steam. She was brig-rigged, and I think her main-yard measured 104 feet, or about four feet longer than the main-yards of the sailing line-of-battleships of, say, 1850-60. On the 3rd October, 1890, Captain Noel beat her under sail alone against a head wind up Suda Bay, a long narrow arm of the sea, with shoal water in places, which added to the difficulty of handling the ship. If I am not mistaken, that occasion was the first and last time an ironclad beat her way under sail into an anchorage. The Téméraire made thirteen tacks and anchored within two cables (400 yards) of her appointed berth with the Fleet. By that time the wind had failed and it was useless to attempt to tack again.

It was early in the commission of the Undaunted that I read Captain (now Admiral) A. T. Mahan's admirable book, The Influence of Sea Power upon History; of which it is not too much to say that it has changed the whole trend of {377} modern thought in respect of the relation of sea warfare to land warfare. Preparation for war now turns upon a new pivot. The result has been that extraordinary increase of foreign navies which necessarily imposes upon us a proportionate increase of our own Navy. I was so greatly impressed with the work of Captain Mahan, that I wrote to him to express my admiration for it. I received in reply the interesting letter which follows, and which Admiral Mahan has kindly permitted me to quote:

    7th February, 1891

"DEAR LORD CHARLES BERESFORD,—I thank you very much for your letter, which was received a few days since. The reception my book has had on your side of the water has been very grateful to me. Commendation is pleasant, but there has been a degree of thoughtful appreciation in England, both by the Press and naval officers which has exceeded my expectations and, I fear, the deserts of the work. That it will produce any effect upon our people is unlikely; too many causes concur to prevent a recognition of the truth that even the most extensive countries need to make themselves outside. After our own, nothing will give me greater pleasure than that it should contribute in your country to a sense of your vital interest in this matter. Your naval officers have an inducement to study those great questions which is almost wanting in ours; for if your Fleet is not all that you could wish, you still have some instruments to work with, a force superior to any other if not adequate to all your needs, and the inadequacy can be greatly remedied by judicious and careful planning and preparation.

"... The number and dissemination of your external interests throws England largely on the defensive, necessarily so. It was so in the great days of Pitt and Nelson, though the fact is obscured by the great naval preponderance you then had. You have now greater and more extensive interests to defend....—Believe me to be, very truly yours, "A. T. MAHAN"


H.M.S. UNDAUNTED (Continued)


The Undaunted, lying at Alexandria in 1891, was being rigged up for a ball; when a telegram arrived ordering her to go to the rescue of the French cruiser Seignelay, which had gone ashore near Jaffa, on 26th April. The telegram arrived at one o'clock in the morning of the 28th April. Before daylight, the ball-room was unrigged, the decorations were taken down, 300 guests were put off by telegram, and we were steaming at full speed to the Seignelay, distant 270 miles. In a private letter printed in The Times of 20th October, 1894, describing the affair, the anonymous writer says: "It was a good sample of the vicissitudes of naval life, and I think we all rather enjoyed it." (I do not know who wrote the letter, but it must have been one of my officers; who, without my knowledge, published it, or sanctioned its publication, more than a year after the Undaunted had paid off. The proprietors of The Times have kindly given me permission to quote from the document, which was written at the time of the occurrence of the events which it describes, and which contains details I had forgotten.)

At daylight on 29th April, we found the Seignelay driven high up on a sandy beach, embedded in five and a half feet of sand in shallow water. She had parted her cable in a gale of wind, had driven on shore, and had scooped out a dock for herself. Had she been built with a round stern {379} each succeeding wave of the sea would have lifted and then dropped her, bumping her to pieces. But as she had a sharp stern, the breakers lifted her bodily and floated her farther on. The Seignelay was a single-screw wooden cruiser, of 1900 tons displacement and 18 feet 4 inches draught. When his ship struck, the captain telegraphed to his admiral saying that he feared she was hopelessly lost. The French admiral dispatched a squadron of three ships to take off the men and stores; but by the time they arrived the Seignelay was afloat again and lying at her anchor almost undamaged; and the senior French captain amiably remarked: "You English do not know the word impossible."

The British sloop Melita, Commander George F. King-Hall (now Admiral Sir G. F. King-Hall, K.C.B, C.V.O.), was already endeavouring to help the Seignelay when the Undaunted arrived; but the water was so shallow that the Melita could not approach nearer than 300 yards, and the Undaunted 850 yards, to the Seignelay.

I went on board the Seignelay, and found her captain seated in his cabin, profoundly dejected at the disaster. I cheered him as well as I could, telling him that of course I understood that he had only been waiting for more men to lighten his ship, and that I would send him 130 men with an officer who understood French to act as interpreter.

There was a heavy sea running; and the anchor I had brought in the launch was laid out astern of the Seignelay with considerable difficulty, and the end of the cable was brought on board the Seignelay.

Besides the Melita, the Austrian steamer Diana, the French steamer Poitou and the Russian steamer Odessa had all been endeavouring to rescue the Seignelay, but they had neither the men nor the gear required for the task. What was done subsequently was narrated in The Times, more than three years afterwards, by the anonymous writer aforesaid.

"Our First Lieutenant (Lieutenant Stokes Rees) went as {380} interpreter, and all our Captain wanted done was suggested by him to the French. He gave the orders to junior officers over our men, and I believe worked the French crew also by his suggestions, a fine old sailor who was one of their chief petty officers giving what orders were necessary. He hardly left the deck for three days and nights, and did his work splendidly.

"The ship was embedded 5½ feet in the sand, and so had to be lightened that much before we could hope to move her. This we spent all Wednesday afternoon in doing.

"On Thursday morning the Melita with a light draught Turkish steamer (the Arcadia) tried to pull her off but failed, while the Melita was very nearly wrecked herself. Nothing but very smart seamanship in making sail and casting off hawsers with cool judgment on the part of —— ... saved her from being dashed in a good sea upon a jagged reef of rocks close to leeward. Her screw got fouled, and the willing but awkward Turk towed her head round towards the reef and she only just managed to get sail on her and shave it by 50 yards. She could not anchor or she would have swung on top of it. We were looking on powerless from our deep draught of water, though we hurried out hawsers, but it was one of the nearest shaves I have seen, and with the large number of men they had away in working parties, a thing to be very proud of and thankful for...."

What happened was that the Melita fouled her screw with a hawser. I had warned her commander both orally and by signal to beware above all of fouling his screw. But circumstances defeated his efforts. When a man is doing his best in difficulties, there is no use in adding to his embarrassments by a reprimand. I signalled to Commander King-Hall to cheer up and to clear his screw as soon as he could; and I have reason to know that he deeply appreciated my motive in so doing.

To continue the narrative, which I have interrupted to quote an instance of disciplinary action in an emergency:


"All Thursday we worked on at lightening her, getting out 300 tons of coal, all her shot, shell, small guns, provisions and cables on board our ship, until every part of the ship was piled up with them, and all our nicely painted boats reduced to ragged cargo boats, besides being a good deal damaged owing to the exposed anchorage and seaway. We got out one strong, and two light, wire hawsers and with them the two ships tried to tow, but we parted the light hawsers at once.

"Then the Captain let me try a plan I had all along been urging but which he ... and the French called a physical impossibility."

(The fact was, that the lighters and native boats were so unseaworthy that, until the weather moderated, the scheme, with all deference to the writer, was impracticable.)

"We hired native boats and large lighters, got out strong chain cables into them, and laid out 450 yards of chain cable between the Melita and ourselves, floated on these lighters. Thanks to the skill of our boatswain and a big quantity of men in the lighters this was done most successfully, though three lighters were sunk or destroyed in doing it.

"That afternoon, Friday the 1st, having got 450 tons out of the ship in forty-four hours, we got a fair pull at her with all three ships, the little Turk tugging manfully at his rotten hawser at one quarter and giving her a side pull occasionally. We gradually worked our mighty engines up to full speed, the chain cable tautened out as I have never seen chain do before and off she came.

"We manned the rigging and gave her cheer on cheer, the band playing the Marseillaise as the Melita towed her past our stern, while the Frenchmen hugged and kissed our men on their checks. It was a scene to be long remembered. The crowds of spectators lining the beach and walls, and our own men, 'spent but victorious' after their long forty-four hours of almost unceasing work, hardly anyone lying down for more than three or four hours either night....

"By noon on Saturday we had replaced all their {382} gear on board, picked up their anchors and cables, etc., so that when their squadron came in that evening they found nothing left to do. They were really grateful and showed much good feeling, coming to call on us and being most friendly.

"On Monday night, when we left, the whole squadron cheered us manfully...."

The British admiral was afterwards asked by the French Government to allow the Undaunted to proceed to the Gulf of Lions where the French Fleet was lying, in order that the officers and men of the Undaunted might attend a reception in her honour. The Undaunted steamed down between the French lines, playing the Marseillaise, the French manning ship and cheering. Officers and men were most hospitably entertained with every mark of friendship and goodwill. The French Government most courteously presented me with a beautiful Sèvres vase, which is one of my most valued possessions.

When the time came for the Undaunted to go home, the commander-in-chief paid her a high compliment. The whole Fleet steamed out of Malta Harbour in line ahead, the Undaunted being the rear ship of the line. When we were to part company, every vessel, except the Undaunted, turned 16 points to port in succession (the line thus curving back upon itself) and steamed past the stern of the Undaunted. The commander-in-chief gave orders to cheer ship as each vessel passed the Undaunted: a stately farewell to the homeward bound.

On the passage home, in order to test the actual working of communication by signal between the Navy and the mercantile marine, a system whose reform had constantly urged, I signalled, between Malta and Plymouth, to 33 merchantmen. Of the whole number, only three answered my signal, and of the three, only one answered it correctly, although several vessels passed within 600 yards of the Undaunted. The signals I made were short, such as "Where are you bound?" "Where are you from?" {383} "Have you seen any men-of-war?" "What weather have you had?" and some of them required only one hoist in reply.

The Royal Navy, a great part of whose duty in time of war would be the protection of commerce, was in fact at that time practically unable to communicate with the Merchant navy, either for the purpose of giving or receiving information, except by means of sending a boat to the vessel in question, a proceeding which must often be impossible, and which would always involve a delay which might bring serious consequences. No condition of affairs could more powerfully exemplify the national neglect of preparation for war. For in war, the maintenance of the lines of communication from ship to ship and ship to shore, is of the first importance.

The difficulty discovered by merchant vessels in signalling or replying to a signal consisted in their ignorance of signalling. They were seldom required to signal; the use of the commercial code involved a tedious process, impossible to accomplish quickly without constant practice; they were equipped with neither Morse nor semaphore apparatus, nor had officers or men learned how to use it. When a man-of-war signalled to a merchantman, the merchant skipper or mate must first try to decipher the flags of the hoist, an exercise to which he was totally unaccustomed. When he had decided that the flags were, say, blue with a white stripe, and red with a yellow stripe, he had to turn them up in the signal-book to discover what they meant. All this time the distance between the two ships was rapidly increasing. Having made out the signal, the merchant sailor must refer to his signal-book to find what flags made his reply; and having found them, he had to pick out the flag itself from a bundle. By the time he had finished these operations, if he ever finished them, the ships were nearly out of sight of each other.

The reform was eventually achieved largely by the personal enterprise and energy of the mercantile marine officers {384} themselves, who learned signalling, and who often paid for the necessary apparatus out of their own pockets.

The Undaunted paid off early in 1893. Upon the evening of the day upon which I arrived in London, I went to the House of Commons to listen to the debate upon the Navy Estimates.



It is easier to take the helm than to be on the con. I have always been on the con. To drop the metaphor, I have looked ahead in matters of naval defence and have pointed out what (in my view) ought to be done. In 1889, I resigned my post at the Board of Admiralty in order to fasten public attention upon the instant necessity of strengthening the Fleet by the addition of 70 vessels at a cost of £20,000,000. In the same year, the Naval Defence Act provided those vessels at a cost a little in excess of my estimate. That was my first shipbuilding programme. Many other forces were of course exerted to the same end: the representations of distinguished brother officers; the many excellent articles in the Press; and the steadily increasing pressure of public opinion, then much less warped by party politics than it has since become. Apart from these influences, which were fortified by the irresistible logic of the truth, my own efforts must have availed little. But above all (to resume my metaphor), it was the helmsman at the Admiralty who put the wheel over. Captain W. H. Hall, Director of the Intelligence Department, worked out the requirements of the case, unknown to me, and arrived at the same conclusions as those at which I had arrived, and the Board of Admiralty adopted his scheme. By the irony of circumstance, the Intelligence Department had been instituted, in consequence of my representations, before I left the Admiralty, for the precise purpose of reporting upon the requirements of defence; and the first report of its fearless {386} and enlightened chief completely upset the comfortable theories both of the Board and of the Government.

I have briefly recalled these matters, fully related in a previous chapter, because they present a curious parallel with the events of 1893-4.

In July, 1893, while still on half-pay, I addressed the London Chamber of Commerce on the subject of "The Protection of the mercantile marine in War." Since I had left the Undaunted, early in the year, I had been occupied once more in drawing up a scheme of naval requirements, specifying what was required, why it was required, and how much it would cost, and giving a detailed list of the necessary vessels. The protection of the mercantile marine was the first part of it; the whole was not completed until just before I was appointed captain of the Steam Reserve at Chatham; and it would have been improper for me to have published the paper while on active service. It was intended that I should read it before the London Chamber of Commerce, following upon and amplifying my address dealing with the protection of the mercantile marine in war. But as there was no time available for the purpose before I went on active service, I gave the scheme to Mr. John Jackson, for the London Chamber of Commerce. I may take this opportunity of paying a tribute to the disinterested and untiring patriotic zeal of the late Mr. Jackson, between whom and myself a warm friendship existed.

In my address upon the protection of the mercantile marine in war, the abrogation of the Declaration of Paris of 1856 was urged as a primary condition of British naval supremacy: a condition unequivocally laid down in the Report of the Three Admirals in 1889. Subsequent events have shown that successive British Governments, far from recognising the essential elements of sea power, continued to yield point after point, until at the Naval Conferences of 1907 and 1909, whose recommendations were embodied in the Declaration of London, British Ministers virtually conceded nearly every right gained by centuries of hard fighting {387} in the past. Fortunately, public indignation has hitherto prevented the ratification of that fatal instrument.

It was also shown in my address that, at the time, the naval protection for the mercantile marine was in the ratio of one small cruiser to 71 sailing vessels and one small cruiser to 41 steamers; that there were dangerous deficiencies in the supplies of reserve coal and ammunition; that a reserve force of at least 20 battleships was required; and that there was urgent need for the immediate construction of the mole and other works at Gibraltar.

The shipbuilding programme was designed to show how these and other requirements were to be met. Mr. John Jackson caused it to be published on his own responsibility. The execution of the requirements therein specified involved an expenditure of 25 millions spread over three and a half years. Their necessity was supported by Vice-Admiral P. H. Colomb, writing in The United Service Magazine; by many letters in the Press written by my brother officers; by further excellent articles in The Times and other papers; and by Lord George Hamilton, ex-First Lord of the Admiralty.

In November, Lord Salisbury publicly stated that "men of different schools with respect to maritime and military defences, men of very different services and experiences and ability," were united in urging that steps should be at once taken to re-establish the maritime supremacy of this country.

The fact was, of course, that the provision made by the Naval Defence Act of 1889 was running out, and that in the revolution of the party political machine, the periodic neglect of the Navy had occurred as usual. As one party attains a lease of power, it is forced to increase the strength of the Fleet; the effort expends itself; then the other party comes in, and either reduces the Fleet, or neglects it, or both, until public opinion is once more aroused by infinite shoutings and untiring labour, and the Government are coerced into doing their plain duty.

Such was the situation in 1888-9; such was it in 1893-4. {388} In 1888-9, a Conservative administration was in power; in 1893-4, Mr. Gladstone was Prime Minister. The difficulty of the situation in 1893-4 was therefore more obstinate, inasmuch as Mr. Gladstone's Ministry held that the reduction of expenditure upon defence was an act of moral virtue; whereas Lord Salisbury's Government merely waited to be convinced of the necessity of increase, before doing their duty.

Nevertheless, what happened? The Navy Estimates of March, 1894, provided for an expenditure of no less than 30¼ millions upon new construction spread over five years; as compared with my proposal of 25 millions spread over three and a half years. The Government actually provided more than was contained in my programme.

The Spencer programme, as it is called, was a much bigger scheme than the programme of 1888-9. It not only provided the ships required, but included a scheme for manning them. It included a comprehensive programme of naval works in which, for the first time in history, the defence of the Empire was treated as a whole. Provision was made for deepening and improving the harbours of Portsmouth, Chatham, Devonport, Haulbowline, for the Keyham extension, for naval barracks at Chatham and Walmer, for the new works at Gibraltar, for the construction of harbours at Portland, Dover, and Simon's Bay, and for large extensions of the dockyards at Malta, Hong Kong and Simon's Bay. The cost of the works was to be met by monies raised under a Naval Loan Act. That Act is still in force, but a later Government declined to utilise it; with the inevitable result that the neglected and dismantled condition of the coaling stations and naval bases abroad, constitute a present danger to the Empire, and will in the future require a vast expenditure, which need never have been incurred, to be devoted to their restoration.

To what extraordinary influence, then, was the conversion of Mr. Gladstone and his colleagues to be attributed? There was, in fact, no conversion. It was a case of coercion; {389} or, as Mr. Gladstone entertained a strong dislike to the word, let us call it moral suasion. The explanation is simple and sufficient. In August, 1893, which was the time when the representations concerning naval deficiencies were becoming insistent, Admiral Sir Frederick Richards was appointed First Sea Lord. Sir Frederick Richards, it will be remembered, was one of the Three Admirals who drew up the historic "Report on The Naval Manoeuvres of 1888," and it was chiefly due to his genius and patriotism that from a technical disquisition the Report became a masterly exposition of the true principles of British sea power. Incidentally, it endorsed the whole of my representations set forth in my shipbuilding programme, which were embodied in the Naval Defence Act of 1889.

Sir Frederick Richards, too, had been a member of the Hartington Commission on Naval and Military Administration, which reported in 1890; and which, although its recommendations were for many years neglected by successive Governments, at least taught its members what was the real condition of affairs, and what were the requirements of organisation for war. Sir Frederick, therefore, came to his high office furnished not only with the sea experience of a flag officer afloat, but equipped with a detailed knowledge of administration and organisation; and endowed, in addition, with so remarkable a genius, that he was one of the greatest naval administrators known to the history of the Royal Navy.

His devotion to duty was the master motive of his life; nor was there a man living who could turn him by the breadth of a hair from what he believed to be right. Having planned, as the proper adviser of Lord Spencer, the First Lord, the great shipbuilding and naval works scheme of 1894-5, he was confronted by the strong opposition of Mr. Gladstone and his Cabinet.

Sir Frederick Richards and the whole of his naval colleagues on the Board immediately informed the Government that, unless their proposals for strengthening the {390} Fleet and for providing for the naval defence of the Empire, were accepted, they would resign. It was enough. The Government yielded.

The Naval Lords were: Admiral Sir Frederick Richards, K.C.B.; Rear-Admiral the Lord Walter Talbot Kerr; Rear-Admiral Sir John Arbuthnot Fisher, K.C.B.; and Captain Gerard Henry Uctred Noel.

It was in commemoration of the action of Sir Frederick Richards that the Navy caused his portrait to be painted, and presented it to the nation. Inscribed with the legend "From the Navy to the Nation," it hangs in the Painted Hall at Greenwich, where it was placed during the lifetime of the admiral, an unique distinction.

As in 1889, when many of my brother officers and myself were conning the ship, it was the helmsman at the Admiralty who put the wheel over, and again I was wholly ignorant of his intentions. But this time the helmsman was none other than the First Sea Lord, and with him were his naval colleagues. With him, too, was the great body of public opinion in the country; and as in 1888, those of us who had been toiling to educate it, may at least claim to have set in motion a force lacking which it is almost impossible, under a pseudo-democratic government, to accomplish any great reform whatever.

It is not too much to say that to the shipbuilding and naval works programme initiated and planned by Sir Frederick Richards in 1894-5, and carried by his courage and resolution, the Empire owes its subsequent immunity from external attack, notably at the time of the Fashoda incident and during the South African war.

Sir Frederick Richards was so great a man, that he could even nullify the injurious effect of the legal supremacy of the civilian First Lord over the Board, which technically deprives it of collective administrative authority. He served, however, with two high-minded gentlemen, Lord Spencer, and Mr. Goschen who succeeded Lord Spencer.


I have had to do with three great shipbuilding programmes. The first was carried after the resignation of one member of the Board, myself; the second, by the threatened resignation of all the Naval Lords! Of the third anon.



In the days of the sailing Navy, when an accident occurred, the captain knew every method by which it could be repaired, and gave directions exactly how the work was to be done. He was not necessarily able to do the work with his own hands (although I know at least one captain who could); but (what was more important) he knew how it ought to be done. Should a topsail-yard carry away, for instance, the captain would know whether to have it sawn in half longitudinally and the halves reversed; or to cut out the damaged piece and replace it with a new piece woolded on and wedged; or to fish the yard.

There was once a captain on the China station who asked the Admiralty for a baulk of timber, because his main-yard had carried away; whereupon the Admiralty officially desired to be officially informed who had carried it away, where to, and why.

In the steam Navy, it is equally necessary that a captain should be acquainted with the various methods of handling material and machinery, in order that he may be able to direct the trained artificer. One case among many which fell under my own observation illustrates the point. A cylinder having cracked, the engineer officer proposed to drill the holes for the bolts securing strengthening pieces in a row; when it was shown to him that the result would be to make the cylinder, like a sheet of postage-stamps, liable to tear; but that if he set his holes in an in-and-out pattern he would avoid that weakness. As the captain, so the {393} admiral. Every admiral in command of a fleet should be competent to direct the execution of even the smallest repairs; for upon what seems a trifling detail may depend the safety of the ship.

Such, at least, were the considerations that induced me to apply for a dockyard appointment. And upon the 15th July, 1893, I was appointed captain of the Steam Reserve at Chatham Dockyard, under the command of Rear-Admiral George D. Morant, flying his flag in the Algiers, guardship of Reserve. Rear-Admiral Morant (now Admiral Sir G. D. Morant, K.C.B.) was a first-rate officer, of indefatigable energy, an excellent administrator, and a most charming chief.

All vessels under construction and repair were under the admiral-superintendent; I was his executive officer; and the object of appointing a sea-going officer was that details of construction should be tested in accordance with the use to which they would be put at sea. Let us say, for instance, that two ships were under construction, one which was 43 feet in the beam, and the other 65 feet. Awning stanchions of the same size were fitted to both ships; and when the awning was rigged in the larger vessel, the stanchions came home. Another advantage of sea-going knowledge was impressed upon me while I was in the Thunderer. She had some forty or fifty deck-plates, covering valves and ventilating shafts. The deck-plates and shafts were of various sizes, involving the use of a large number of spanners to fit them. These took up space and added an unnecessary weight. A seaman would have made a standard pattern with one or two spanners to fit the whole number.

It was my duty to take command in all steam trials of vessels, and tests of appliances and machinery, and to compare all work with its specification.

During 1893-4, the Magnificent was being built by Chatham in rivalry of Portsmouth, which was building her sister battleship the Majestic. It was becoming a close thing, when the Magnificent received from the manufacturers {394} a lot of armour plates, which might have gone to the Majestic, and which enabled us to gain a lead. The Magnificent was launched by the Countess Spencer, in December, 1894. The ship was built in thirteen months from the date of laying the keel-plate; an achievement for which high credit was due to the chief constructor, Mr. J. A. Yates, and to the constructors, Mr. H. Cock and Mr. W. H. Card.

When I took the Magnificent upon her trials, Lord Wolseley, Colonel Brabazon, and Mr. Baird, American Ambassador, accompanied me as guests. We returned from the Nore in a torpedo-boat, at full speed, in the dark. In those days there were no lights in the Medway; and we jumped the spit. Lord Wolseley inquired if "we always took short cuts across the land."

When a new ship was completed by the Royal Dockyards, the task of cleaning her and completing arrangements in detail was performed by working parties, which usually consisted of pensioners. The principle was that when she was taken over from the Dockyard authorities to be commissioned, she should be ready for sea. In the case of the Magnificent, for instance, when Lord Walter Kerr hoisted his flag in her, in December, 1895, she was absolutely complete in every detail: decks spotless, store-rooms labelled, hammock-hooks numbered: there was nothing for officers and men to do but to find their quarters.

An instance of the necessity of testing appliances according to sea requirements occurred when I was testing capstans. The ships were taken into deep water, so that the whole length of the cable was run out by the time the anchor touched bottom; and it was then discovered that the capstan was too weak to lift the amount of vertical chain specified.

When I was trying a torpedo-boat at full speed, the helm suddenly jammed, and the boat instantly went out of control in the neighbourhood of a number of trawlers. Luckily, she went round and round in a circle until she was stopped. {395} She did not hit a trawler; but it was a very lively minute or two.

A party of us went to a ball at Sheerness, going thither in a tug; and intending to return the same night, we left the house at about one o'clock. There was a thick fog, and the captain of the tug declined to start. As I made it a rule to sleep in my own quarters at Chatham if I possibly could, I said I would take the tug back. As there were no lights, I found the channel by the simple method of hitting its banks; and cannoning off and on all the way, we made the passage.

In November, 1892, the Howe battleship had struck upon an uncharted rock in Ferrol harbour; and Rear-Admiral Edward Seymour (now Admiral of the Fleet Sir E. H. Seymour, G.C.B., O.M., G.C.V.O.) was appointed to inspect the salvage operations. These occupied nearly five months. Sir Edward gives a brief but interesting account of the work in his book, My Naval Career. After the Howe had been floated, she was dry-docked at Ferrol, where she remained for nearly two months, while temporary repairs were being effected. When she struck the rock, her port side forward was stove in for nearly half her length, and her after part remained resting on a "rocky shoal of hard granite." Sir Edward Seymour says "that after the ship was got into dock at Ferrol, I could stand on a temporary flooring where the bottom of the ship used to be, and holding one hand over my head could not touch where the ship's bottom plates had been driven up to." He adds that "the mud, slime and dirt covering everything as the water was cleared from below, and the bad smell were almost beyond belief."

We at Chatham could confirm the observation; for it was to Chatham that the Howe returned to be repaired. When she arrived, she was still coated with stinking mud, and we did our best to clean her. But notwithstanding our utmost diligence, a minute quantity of this virulent slime was afterwards found under the rolling-plate of the turrets. {396} The men who slung their hammocks near the turrets fell sick of fever; and its origin was traced to the mud.

The salving of a vessel so badly injured was a fine achievement. Sir Edward Seymour brought her to Sheerness under her own steam at eight knots. We dealt with her for a few months, until she was all a-taunto again, when she was re-commissioned and went to the Mediterranean.

It is the duty of a captain of the Dockyard Reserve to make representations, through the admiral-superintendent, to the Admiralty, with regard to improvements in construction and material. My suggestions concerning water-tight doors in ships were subsequently embodied in a paper read before the Institution of Naval Architects. In the design of the first ironclads, the vessels were actually divided into water-tight compartments by bulkheads without doors or apertures. In later designs, numerous doors were cut in the bulkheads for the sake of convenience of access, which, together with the many ventilating shafts and valves, in effect nullified the system of dividing a vessel into water-tight sections. The doors themselves were hung on hinges and closed with hanks and wedges; an inefficient method. My suggestions, which were afterwards adopted, were that the number of doors should be greatly reduced; and that they should be vertical, and made to screw up and down; and that the ventilating shafts fitted with an automatic closing apparatus which did not work should be abolished.

Among other proposals were the substitution of ships' names, plainly lettered, for figure-heads and scroll-work, and the abolition of the ram. At that time, our men-of-war were built with unarmoured ends, only the protective steel deck extending the whole length and breadth of the ship. It followed that if the side of a hostile vessel were pierced by the long projecting ram of a British ship, the force of her impact would strip her bows of the light construction above the protective deck, and she would remain toggled in the enemy and helpless. Far more effective, if ramming is to {397} be done, would be the direct blow of a vertical bow. At the same time, I continued to represent the radical weakness of unarmoured ends.

In 1894, five years after the passing of the Naval Defence Act, and the elate at which the great Spencer shipbuilding programme, involving a large increase of officers and men, was begun, the serious deficiency in the personnel became manifest. The fact was, that the Naval Defence Act of 1889 had not included proper provision for manning the new ships as they came into commission; and just when the boys who ought to have been entered in 1889 would have become available as able seamen, it was discovered that they did not exist. But by that time, of course, the Government responsible for the deficiency was out of office, and, as usual, there was no one to be called to account.

In September, 1894, Mr. Spenser Wilkinson, who has performed so much invaluable service in educating the public to logical ideas upon organisation for war and problems of national defence, began to publish his excellent articles dealing with "The Command of the Sea," in which the demand for the institution of a Naval War Staff was formulated. It was for the purpose of enforcing this necessity that the Navy League was founded by "four average Englishmen" in December, 1894. Among its original supporters were Earl Roberts, V.C., Lord George Hamilton, Sir Charles Dilke, Sir John Puleston, the Master of Trinity House, Sir Charles Lawson, Mr. Joseph Cowen, Mr. Arnold-Forster, and myself.

It will be observed that the original aim of the Navy League was to ensure the fulfilment of the idea upon which the Intelligence Department was founded upon my representations in 1888. The Navy League subsequently added to itself other objects, which perhaps obscured its first purpose. The War Staff at the Admiralty was constituted in 1912, in accordance with the recommendations of the Beresford Inquiry of 1909.

In 1893, the year before the Navy League was founded, {398} and just previous to my appointment to Chatham, I publicly advocated the institution of a Council of Defence, under the presidency of a Minister, composed of the best admirals and generals. The project was afterwards carried into execution by Mr. Balfour; but its utility was vitiated by being framed to suit the ends of party politics.

In May, 1894, the U.S. cruiser Chicago anchored off Gravesend; and at a banquet given to the American admiral and officers, I had the pleasure of renewing my old acquaintance with the American Navy, begun in 1882 at the bombardment of Alexandria. Admiral Erben flew his flag in the Chicago, and Captain Mahan was flag-captain.

It was a great pleasure to meet Captain Mahan (now Admiral Mahan), whose classic work on The Influence of Sea Power upon History came to me while I was in command of the Undaunted, and concerning which, as before related, some correspondence had passed between us.

Captain Mahan and myself contributed articles to The North American Review of November, 1894, on "The Possibilities of an Anglo-American Reunion." Captain Mahan, preferring to postpone the advocacy of a formal alliance between the two nations, looked forward to the development of such relations as would make it feasible; while I urged the conclusion of a defensive alliance for the protection of those common interests upon which depends the prosperity of the two countries. That the English-speaking nations should combine to preserve the peace of the world, has always seemed to me a reasonable aspiration, and I have said so in both countries when opportunity served.

In December, 1894, desiring to represent the interests of the Service in Parliament as soon as might be, I applied once more to the Admiralty to be permitted, according to precedent, to count my service in the Soudan campaign as time spent in the command of a ship of war; but the application was again refused. From many constituencies invitations to stand were sent to me; among them were {399} Stockport, North Kensington, Birkenhead, Liverpool, East Toxteth, Armagh, Dublin, Cardiff, Chatham, Devonport, Pembroke and Portsmouth.

In those days Mr. W. L. Wyllie (now R.A.) used to haunt the Medway and the Nore, boat-sailing and painting. He can handle a boat as well as he handles his brush; that is, to perfection. Mr. Wyllie gave me a boat which he had built with his own hands, I think out of biscuit boxes. I tried it in a basin at Chatham, accompanied by a warrant officer of the Pembroke. We were becalmed; a sudden puff came; and over we went. In memory of the disaster, I gave the warrant officer a pipe, the bowl of which was appropriately carved to represent a death's-head.

While I was at Chatham, my home was Park Gate House, Ham Common. Here I had a model farm, producing milk, eggs and poultry, which were readily sold in Richmond, whose streets and thoroughfares were greatly enlivened by the daily procession of my large and shining brass milk-cans. I was not in the sad case of Captain Edward Pellew (afterwards Lord Exmouth), who upon quitting the sea and taking a farm, in 1791, complained that the crops grew so slowly that they made his eyes ache.

During my absence a burglar entered the house. The butler, hearing a noise, rose from his bed, took a revolver, and sought for the intruder, who fled before him to the roof, whence he fell headlong through a skylight. He must have been a good deal cut, for he bled all over the place. The butler, following, also fell through the skylight; but, presumably falling through the same hole, was little damaged. Continuing the chase, he was brought up short by a wire entanglement previously set by the burglar for the butler's confusion. So he sat where he was, and continued to fire steadily in the direction he supposed the burglar to have gone, until his ammunition was all expended.

It may be interesting to recall that in September, 1893, Sir Augustus Harris was appointed manager of Drury Lane Opera House by the committee which was then organising {400} the opera in this country. I urged his selection on account of his great administrative ability; and prevailed over the objection that he was only skilled in pantomime.

The committee had been formed to improve the opera, which was then performed at three different theatres: Covent Garden, Drury Lane, and Her Majesty's; so that the available talent was scattered. Sir Augustus Harris combined the three into one at Drury Lane.

In October, 1895, occurred the death of my brother, Lord Waterford, at the age of fifty-one. He had been for long completely disabled by a bad accident in the hunting field; and although his sufferings were constant and acute, he continued staunchly to discharge his many duties to the end. He was succeeded in the marquisate by his son.

My appointment at Chatham terminated in March, 1896; and a few days later I delivered at Birmingham an address dealing with the requirements of naval defence.



The three years succeeding the termination of my appointment at Chatham were mainly occupied with questions of naval reform. The task was of my own choosing; and if, in comparison with the life I led, the existence of the early martyrs was leisured, dignified and luxurious, it is not for me to draw the parallel. The chief difficulty encountered by any reformer is not an evil but a good. It is the native virtue of the English people, which leads them to place implicit confidence in constituted authority. The advocacy of a change implies that constituted authority is failing to fulfil its duty. You cannot at the same time both trust and distrust the men in charge of affairs. Again, reform often involves expenditure; and the dislike to spend money upon an idea is natural to man. And it is the custom of constituted authority to tell the people that all is well, in fact never so well. They have all the weight of their high office behind them; and people will believe what they are told by authority in despite of the evidence of their senses.

Moreover, there are endless difficulties and disappointments inherent in the very nature of the task of the naval or military reformer. The problems of defence are highly intricate; and although the principles governing them remain unaltered, the application of those principles is constantly changing. The most skilled officers may differ one from another; and a man who is devoting his whole time and energy to benefit the Service to which he belongs, {402} will often be disheartened by the opposition of his brother officers.

The influence of society, again, is often baneful. Society is apt to admonish a public man, especially if he be popular, perpetually telling him that he must not do this, and he must not say that, or he will injure his reputation, ruin his career, and alienate his friends; until, perhaps, he becomes so habitually terrified at what may happen, that he ends by doing nothing, and spoiling his career at the latter end after all. Public life to-day is permeated through and through with a selfish solicitude for personal immunity. But it remains the fact that he who intends to achieve a certain object, must first put aside all personal considerations. Upon going into action, a fighting man is occupied, not with speculations as to whether or not he will be hit, and if so where, but in trying to find out where and how soon and how hard he can hit the enemy. Even so, he may be beaten; but at least he will have nothing to regret; he will be able to say that if it were all to do again, he would do the same; for he will know that on any other terms his defeat would be assured.

If, then, these pages record in brief the continual endeavours of those who made it their business to represent to the nation the requirements of Imperial defence, it is for the purpose of once more exemplifying the defects in our system which periodically expose the country and the Empire to dangers from without and panics from within, and involve them in a series of false economies alternating with spasms of wasteful expenditure. The remedy advocated was the constitution of a body whose duty it should be to represent requirements. Such a body was not created until 1912. In the meantime, more money was spent than would purchase security, which was not always obtained. Nor have we yet produced what is the first essential of national security, the feeling of the officers and men of the fighting services that they are being justly treated by the nation in the matter of pay and pension and proper administrative treatment.


In 1896, the most pressing need of the Navy was for more officers and men. As already explained, the failure to enter the number required to man the ships of the Naval Defence Act of 1889, had now become manifest. Battleships are a showy asset; the absence of men is not noticed by the public; therefore the politician builds the ships and omits the men. In an address delivered before the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce in July, 1896, I stated that the deficiency in the personnel was 27,562 men, including a deficiency of 5000 in engine-room ratings. A resolution urging the necessity of an immediate increase in the personnel was passed by the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, and was sent to the First Lord, Mr. Goschen.

The First Lord replied to the resolution, stating that the increase in the personnel since 1889 had been 31,360. These figures, however, included the whole of the numbers borne, without distinction of the numbers available for sea service, and represented the numbers voted, irrespective of deaths or retirements. The true increase was estimated by me, upon the evidence of the Navy Estimates, at 17,262; and the total number required at 105,000.

A good deal of public interest having been aroused on the subject, Mr. Goschen stated in the House that it would be his duty next year "to propose such a number of men for the Navy and Reserves as we judge to be rendered necessary by the extension of the Fleet."

The increase of personnel was provided accordingly. Here is one instance among many, of a responsible statesman declaring in all good faith that matters were perfectly satisfactory as they were; being obliged by the insistence of outside representations to examine requirements; and then discovering that these were in fact what had been represented. Mr. Goschen was necessarily dependent upon the advice of the Sea Lords; but the Sea Lords themselves were immersed in the mass of routine work involved in keeping the machine going. The business of supply and the business of {404} organisation for war were confused together; with the inevitable result that organisation for war was neglected.

The personnel was increased in 1897-8 by 6300 (numbers voted). In the following year, 1898-9, my estimate of 105,000 men was passed, the numbers voted being 106,390; and, excepting intervals of false economy, continued to rise until they now (1913) stand at 146,000.

The proposals with regard to the personnel were supported by (among others) Admiral Sir R. Vesey Hamilton, who, in a letter to The Times of 2nd April, 1897, stated that "an ex-Controller of the Navy said to me when I was at the Admiralty, 'Your building programme is ahead of the manning.' And he was right, more particularly in officers." Sir R. Vesey Hamilton was a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty from January, 1889, the year of the Naval Defence Act, to September, 1891. His testimony is therefore authoritative. It was, of course, no fault of Sir Vesey Hamilton that the personnel was deficient.

It is not too much to say that owing to the omission from that Act of the requisite increase in the personnel, the Navy has been short of men ever since.

In December, 1896, I suggested in a letter to the Press that promotion to flag-rank should take place at an earlier age in order that officers might gain the necessary experience while still in the vigour of youth. Officers who remain too long in a subordinate position are liable to have the faculty of initiative taken out of them, and to fall into the habit of thinking that things will last their time. The services of old and experienced officers are of course invaluable; but officers should acquire the knowledge of the duties of an admiral (upon whom in modern warfare all depends) as early in life as possible. Progressive pay for all ranks from lieutenants upwards, was also advocated.

The requirements of the time were set forth by me in an article contributed to The Nineteenth Century of February, 1897. Briefly, these were as follows:


1. The necessity of obtaining the requisite number of personnel for active service, long service ratings, such number to be definitely specified by the Board of Admiralty as being necessary to fulfil stated requirements.

2. A thorough reorganisation of the Royal Naval Reserve. A scheme of reorganisation, founded on the proposals of Captain Joseph Honner, Royal Navy, Captain Crutchley, R.N.R., and others, was explained by me to the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce. In order to meet the emergency, it was suggested that 5000 men should be annually joined for five years, after which they should pass into the first-class Reserve; at the same time, 5000 men should be annually joined for two months' training, after which they should pass into the second-class Reserve.

Such emergencies periodically occur, because the authorities neglect to look ahead.

3. Seventeen old but useful ironclads to be re-armed with modern guns.

A list of these was drawn up; the proposed alterations in each vessel were specified in detail, together with their cost; a task which took me some three months to accomplish.

The principle of the suggestion was that the invention of the quick-firing gun was actually a far more important revolution than the change from muzzle-loading to breech-loading guns. It was calculated that the older vessels were strong enough to withstand the increased strain. The proposal was not made in order to avoid the necessity of building new vessels, but as an expedient to make up a deficiency in ships. Building new vessels was the preferable course of action, which the Admiralty rightly decided to adopt.

4. The advisability of eliminating altogether from the number of ships in commission or in reserve those vessels which could neither fight nor run away, and of replacing them by modern vessels.

The scheme was carried into effect by degrees. Such an elimination should take place periodically, upon the {406} industrial principle of replacing obsolete plant with new machines. In later years, the elimination of old vessels which was carried into effect by the Admiralty, was effected without replacing them by new ships, a course of action which contravened the very principle upon which it was ostensibly based.

5. The advisability of holding annual manoeuvres in combination with the Army at all naval bases of operation.

6. The designing of a definite plan of Imperial defence, or plan of campaign; and the provision and equipment of such naval bases and stations abroad as should enable such plan to be put into effective operation.

It will be observed that all the aforesaid recommendations of my brother officers and myself were directed to the fulfilment of Sir Frederick Richards' great scheme of 1894-5, as already described. In the result, the Naval Works Bill, March 1897, showed that work was in progress at Gibraltar, Portland, Dover, Keyham, Portsmouth, Hong Kong, Colombo, Pembroke, Haulbowline; on barracks at Chatham, Sheerness, Portsmouth, Keyham, Walmer, the new college for engineers at Keyham and new magazines, the money voted being just under a million.

Writing from Cairo, in March, 1897, to the secretary of the Guildhall Club (the letter being published at the time) I said that Mr. Brodrick's speech showed that the Government had a definite plan of campaign, which was "proved by the proposal to fortify important strategic bases at present absolutely undefended; ... without such fortified bases it is palpable that no clear plan of campaign existed at headquarters; and a happy-go-lucky method must have prevailed in the event of war. The Government appear to me to have really begun to put our defences into business-like trim and to have looked into and endeavoured to make complete all those auxiliaries, any one of which being imperfect would jeopardise the defences of the Empire as a whole.... It is always very hard for authorities to make proposals involving large sums of money unless the public {407} and the Press combine to show that they wish such expenditure."

There remained, and still remains, an essential reform to be accomplished. I have never ceased to advocate as a matter of elementary justice such an increase of the pay of officers and men as should bear some proportion to the responsibilities with which they are charged and the duties which they fulfil. In 1897, the increase of the officers' pay, the rate of which had hardly been altered since the time of Nelson, was an urgent necessity. As a result of the steady refusal of the Government to grant anything except the most meagre concessions, officers are now leaving the Service almost daily, and among those who remain there is considerable discontent. At that time, the pay of the men was, if not generous, still adequate. Owing to a variety of causes, it has since become totally inadequate; the concessions wrung from the Government in response to perfectly reasonable demands are ridiculously insufficient; and numbers of trained men are leaving the Service as soon as they can.

In view of the obstinacy of the Government upon this matter, it is worth recalling that, speaking at Newbury in May, 1897, I put the whole case for the officers as plainly as possible. It was pointed out that every condition of life had improved during the Queen's reign, except the pay and prospects of the officers and men of the Royal Navy, although their responsibilities had increased a hundred-fold. The lieutenant's pay was £15 a month; after eight years he could get £3 a month extra; and after twelve years another £3 extra. Except for specialist duty, such as gunnery, torpedo and navigation, he could not get another shilling. There were over 200 lieutenants then on the list of over twelve years' service, who were only getting £21 a month. They could get no more, although some among them had twenty-one years' service. Half-pay, often compulsory, was a shameful scandal to the country. It was not even half-pay, but very often barely a third. Rear-admirals of forty {408} years' service were sent on shore with £450 a year to live upon. Captains were even worse off, often getting four years on compulsory half-pay at £200 a year.

That was sixteen years ago. The Government have done nothing worth consideration in the interval.

The case was again publicly represented by me in 1912. By that time, owing to the increase in price of the necessities of life and other causes, the pay of the men had become grossly inadequate. In order that it should be commensurate with the pay obtained by an equivalent class of men in civil employment, it ought to have been doubled. All that the Government did was to grant a trifling increase to men of a certain term of service. How long will the nation allow the Navy to continue a sweated industry?

Another measure of reform which is still far from accomplishment, is the manning of British ships by British seamen. The principle, as I stated in May, 1897, is that in dealing with the innumerable emergencies inseparable from the life of the sea, it is better to depend upon British seamen than upon foreigners. In May, 1897, it was estimated that of the total number of men employed in the mercantile marine, the proportion of British seamen was no more than three-fourths.

In the same year, 1897, the question of the contribution of the Colonies to Imperial Naval Defence, which, for practical purposes, was first raised at the Imperial Conference of 1887, was the subject of one of those discussions which have occupied the public mind at intervals ever since; and which have eventually resulted in the decision of Australia and New Zealand to establish navies of their own.

In a letter written in reply to a correspondent and published in the Press in June, 1897, I expressed the opinion that:

"It certainly would help in Imperial defence if the Colonies did subscribe some portion of the money necessary to secure adequate Imperial defence, but I think that all such proposals should emanate from the Colonies in the first instance."


In another communication I observed that: "We can only be prepared for war thoroughly when the Colonies offer to join us in a definite scheme of Imperial defence, and the Colonies and their trade are inseparable portions of the question of Imperial defence. We must, however, offer them an inducing quid pro quo. We cannot expect that they will bear a share of the costs unless we are prepared to give them a voice in the administration of Imperial affairs. Imperial consolidation must be real, not one-sided, and we must devise a scheme for admitting the Colonies to Parliamentary representation on all questions affecting Imperial policy."

And in a letter to the Secretary of the Toronto Branch of the Navy League, I said: "The great necessity of the times is to have thoroughly equipped and efficient naval bases in all the Colonies, so that no matter where a British man-of-war meets the enemy, she will practically be fighting in home waters with a good base within easy reach for repairs, stores, coal, etc."

I still think that this was a practical suggestion. Some years afterwards, Canada took over certain naval bases; but the result has not been a success. But she took them over at a time when the British Government were engaged in dismantling and abandoning naval bases all over the world. These have still to be restored. But as the danger is out of sight, the public do not perceive that the demolition of naval bases abroad may very likely, in the event of war, result in disaster to the British Navy.

In June, 1897, was celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. Some observations contained in an article contributed by me to The Navy League Guide to the great naval review held at Spithead, may perhaps be historically interesting. It was shown that the two great naval reviews, that of the Jubilee in 1887 and the Diamond Jubilee of 1897, mark important epochs in the history of the British Navy. The Fleet of 1887 was in no way adequate to our needs at that time, and many of the ships assembled for review could not have taken their places in the fighting line. {410} (So it was represented at the time; luckily, the supreme test of war was escaped; the proof that the need existed, therefore, resides in its ultimate recognition by the authorities.) In 1897, on the contrary, there was assembled a fleet of warships representing a large proportion of the Navy we then possessed, which was rapidly becoming equal to our necessities both in numbers and efficiency. In 1887, the battleship fleet was represented by only four vessels of less than ten years of age, Collingwood, Edinburgh, Conqueror and Ajax. Two out of the four were armed with muzzle-loading guns, although all foreign navies had mounted nothing but breech-loaders for several years previously. The contrast afforded by the 1897 review was remarkable. Nothing could better have displayed the giant strides we had made both in construction and fighting efficiency, than the eleven splendid first-class battleships assembled on 26th June, 1897.

A suggestion was added which was not adopted; nor has the proposal yet been carried into execution upon a large scale, probably because the authorities are afraid of accidents. "To make the review a success and to test the capabilities of the captains, it would be well if the Fleet could be got under way and ordered to pass the royal yacht which should be anchored as the saluting base. Possibly a few accidents would occur, but it would be a capital display of seamanship and the art of handling ships; and no Fleet in the world could execute so imposing a manoeuvre so well as our own."

Indeed, I have always held that a naval review should be conducted like a military review. The Sovereign should first proceed between the lines; then the ships should get under way and should steam past the saluting base.

The Dean of Saint Paul's unexpectedly provided a diversion in naval affairs. In order to make room in the Cathedral for the monument to be erected to the memory of the late Lord Leighton, P.R.A., the Dean proposed to remove the monument to Captain Richard Rundle Burges, R.N., from the south aisle to the crypt; a proceeding to {411} which I expressed strong objection on behalf of the Service to which I had the honour to belong. The controversy was conducted in the columns of The Times.

The Dean, writing on 7th July, 1897, protested that the "monument is unsightly. Captain Burges making love to Victory over a gun is not a very suitable monument for a church, and during the twenty-eight years I have been connected with the Cathedral I have been most anxious to see this monument in a less conspicuous place."

In my reply, I said that, in the first place, I was not prepared to accept his description of the sculptor's work; and secondly, that it was rather late in the day to criticise it. And I submitted to the Dean and Chapter, that as the Cathedral did not appear to have suffered by the retention of that monument for the last hundred years, no harm could possibly result from allowing it to remain. And I submitted with great respect that the twenty-eight years' repugnance of the present Dean had curiously enough only found vent in action at the time when it was found necessary to select a spot for the site of a monument to the late distinguished President of the Academy. I added that "Lord Leighton was a personal friend of my own, but I have yet to learn that he was the sort of man who would have wished to usurp the place of any one, or that he would have even admitted that an artist, however distinguished, takes precedence in the nation's history of those heroes to whom the existence of our Empire is due. I rather think from what I knew of Lord Leighton's character that had such a hypothesis been presented to him in his lifetime his answer would have been like that of her gracious Majesty the Queen, who, it is reported, when it was suggested to her that Queen Anne's statue should be moved to make room for one of herself, replied, 'Certainly not; why, you would be proposing to move myself next.'"

Then, on 12th July, 1897, Mr. Balfour stated in the House of Commons that "the Dean and Chapter, after reviewing all the circumstances of the case, had decided not to carry out {412} their intention of relegating the Burges Memorial to the crypt." The Times remarked that "The public will be interested to know that among the circumstances which have brought about this welcome change of purpose an important place must be assigned to an appeal by the Prince of Wales. His Royal Highness holds very strongly the opinion that if memorials are to be liable to removal in this summary manner whenever the taste of a later generation pronounces them unsightly, the door will be opened to grave abuses. He accordingly expressed to the Dean and Chapter his hope that they would see their way to retain the Burges Memorial in its present position, and it is largely in deference to his wishes that the monument remains where it was erected at the expense of the nation."

So the good Dean was fated still to be scandalised by the "unsuitable" spectacle of the gallant captain "making love to Victory over a gun"; although, personally, I doubt if Captain Burges's statue is really doing anything of the kind. In January, 1897, I had the honour of being appointed A.D.C. to the Queen. In July, 1897, when the intention of the Duke and Duchess of York to visit Ireland was announced I seized the opportunity to advocate a project which I had long desired to see adopted, and for whose adoption, in fact, I am still hoping. That project is the building of a Royal residence in Ireland. It has hitherto been foiled by timid Ministers. Writing to The Times (24th July, 1897), I pointed out that the total sojourn of the Royal Family in Ireland during the past sixty years had been fifty-nine days in all. The letter continues: "In my humble opinion it is impossible to overrate the harm that this apparent neglect has done to the cause of loyalty in Ireland. I am convinced that many misfortunes and misunderstandings would never have taken place if the Royal Family had been permitted by Governments and courtiers to make more frequent visits to Ireland, and to render such visits possible by the establishment of a Royal residence in that country. I know for a fact that Her Majesty has on one occasion, and I believe more, {413} made strenuous efforts to obtain a Royal residence in Ireland. Her Majesty's generous wish was never fulfilled, owing to opposition on the part of her advisers, who have invariably entertained an ungenerous and unworthy doubt of the Irish character.... Vice-regal rule from the Castle at Dublin is hated with all the passion of resentment of a generous-minded but impulsive people, who possibly regard it as placing them on the same footing as the conquered and coloured races under British domination. It must not be inferred that I in any way intend to say a word against the present or preceding Viceroys of Ireland. I only wonder that men could ever have been found with patriotism enough to fill the office; but in common with patriotic Irishmen of all parties, I object to the sham court of the rule of men who, so far from really representing the Sovereign, represent merely the political party which has the upper hand in England at the time of their holding office—unlike the Viceroy of India, who holds office for a term of years independent of the political party that appointed him.... I believe Irishmen would like to have Royalty permanently among them, and to see Ireland put on an equal footing with the rest of the United Kingdom in these matters."

The project was received with the general approval of the public, in so far as their opinion was represented by the Press. The truth was, the Queen often wished to go to Ireland; but her Ministers prevented her from visiting my country; and their action was keenly resented by Irishmen. Personally, I protested against it; affirming what I believe to be the fact, that the Irish are the most chivalrous people in the world. In her sentiment towards my country, and in all her dealings with the Irish, Her Majesty was invariably most charming. It is very much to be regretted that the anomaly of Castle government was not ended long ago: that it must be ended, is certain.

The Duke and Duchess of York, visiting Ireland in August, 1897, were received with the greatest possible enthusiasm. The township of Kingstown presented an {414} address in which the hope was expressed that their visit might lead to the establishment of a Royal residence in Ireland; and thirteen other addresses presented on the same day expressed a like aspiration.

In the same month (August, 1897) I was promoted to rear-admiral.

Among other occupations, I had been collaborating with Mr. H. W. Wilson in the preparation of a Life of Nelson. The work was published under the title of Nelson and his Times, by Messrs. Harmsworth, in October, 1897.

In the meantime the Government had been making tentative efforts towards the constitution of a Council of Defence, upon which both Services should be represented, and which should form a kind of advisory body. The President of the new body was the Duke of Devonshire, who, universally esteemed and respected for the high-minded, conscientious statesman that he was, had neither the training nor the aptitude required to fulfil such an office. At the same time, the Duke was not only occupied with the affairs of his great estates, and in the discharge of many social duties, but he was also head of the Education Department. While expressing the utmost respect for the Duke, I did not hesitate publicly to express my opinion, in the course of an address delivered at the Cutlers' Feast at Sheffield in November, 1897, that under the circumstances it was impossible to take the new Council seriously. Nor is it probable that anyone did take it seriously, least of all Her Majesty's Ministers.

It was in 1897 that I first saw Mr. Marconi's invention for wireless telegraphy. Mr. Marconi, to whom I recently wrote asking him for particulars of the occasion, very kindly replied as follows:

"In July, 1897, you first saw my original apparatus working at 28 Mark Lane in the City of London, the corresponding instrument being placed in another office in the City. Among others who witnessed the tests was the late {415} Mr. Ritchie, then, I believe, President of the Board of Trade."

But the time was shortly to arrive when I was once more to take part in doing what I could to represent the interests of the Navy in Parliament. Since 1890, I had been approached by forty constituencies as to whether I would become a candidate. One invitation came upon me unawares. It was in the garden of my house at Ham Common. I was seated at my sailmaker's bench, clad in my old canvas jumper and trousers, employed in fitting a dipping lug I used to have in the Undaunted, for the roof of a summer-house; when to me entered a party of gentlemen, immaculately clad in frock coats and silk hats. I had not the least idea who they were; but they conversed with me very affably, fell to criticising my work, and presently inquired if I had seen Lord Charles, as they had been told that he was on the lawn. At that, I suddenly recollected that I had promised to receive a deputation.

During 1897, I had accepted the invitation to stand for a division of Birmingham; but in consequence of a misunderstanding, the intention was abandoned. Then, in December, owing to the death of my old friend Sir Frank Lockwood, the seat of York became vacant. My opponent was Sir Christopher Furness (afterwards Lord Furness). First in my election address was placed the necessity for improving the efficiency both of the Navy and Army by connecting the two Services in a plan of combined defence. The advisability of altering the Constitution of the House of Lords was also urged, together with the necessity of constituting a strong Second Chamber.

The election campaign was lively enough. Sir Christopher's main supporter was no other than Mr. Sam Story, who afterwards became an enthusiastic Tariff Reformer. He and I interchanged ideas in a debate conducted for the edification of an audience of 12,000 people, turn and turn about for twenty minutes each.

My brothers Lord William and Lord Marcus were {416} helping me. Lord Marcus accompanied me to a meeting, and I told him that he must make a speech.

"I can't," he said. "I don't know what to say."

I told him to begin, because he was sure to be interrupted, and then, being an Irishman, he would certainly find something to say. Lord Marcus thereupon rose to his feet; and a voice immediately shouted:

"Who are ye?"

It was enough. The fire kindled.

"Who are we?" cried Lord Marcus. "I'll tell you who we are. We are three brothers, and our names are Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And we have come here to put out the burning fiery Furness!"

There was a good deal of excitement during the election, and sometimes stones would be flying. A cousin of mine, a lady, was driving along the street, when a stone lodged in her bonnet. Lord William caused it to be mounted in silver, upon which was inscribed the legend: "This proves that our opponents left no stone unturned to win the York election"; and presented it to the lady to use as a paper-weight.

It was a close contest indeed. On the night of the poll, the Mayor most unfortunately succumbed to the strain and died suddenly.

In the result I won the seat by a majority of 11 (after two counts), on a poll of over 11,000 votes.

When I had taken my seat in the House, a political opponent whose opinions were as changeable as the wind, who had held high office, and who was distinguished by a handsome and majestic presence, said to me in the smoking-room:

"Well, my dear Charlie, you have not much of the appearance of a statesman."

"My dear old friend," I said, "you must not judge by appearances. You have not the appearance of a weather-cock—but you are one."

At Christmas, 1908, Mr. Henniker Heaton's indomitable {417} perseverance had resulted in the establishment of Imperial penny postage in every part of the British Empire except Australia and New Zealand. Lord Randolph Churchill and myself were hearty supporters of Mr. Henniker Heaton, who gave to each of us a golden penny in commemoration of the event.




As the significance of Lord Charles Beresford's doings in China cannot be appreciated save in the light of the knowledge of the international situation in 1898, a brief analysis of it may here serve the convenience of the reader.

The governing factor of the problem was the fear of Russian ambition and of Russian aggrandisement. Both Russia and Great Britain are great Oriental Powers. The Asiatic possessions or dependencies of Russia consisted of over six million square miles, containing a population of about thirteen millions. The Asiatic possessions or dependencies of Great Britain consisted of something over one and a half million square miles, containing a population of some three hundred millions. A comparison between the two demonstrates this remarkable disparity: that whereas Russia had four times as much Asiatic territory as England, England ruled over thirteen times as many Asiatic people. The Russian pressure towards the seaboards, wealthy lands and vast populations of the East, extended along a line measuring 7600 miles, and verging all the way upon India, Turkey, Persia and China. In 1898, Russia was steadily advancing towards India, throwing forward railways through Central Asia, and at the same time inexorably thrusting the Trans-Siberian Railway towards Manchuria and the Amur regions. That line, which to-day bands the entire continent {419} from St. Petersburg to Vladivostock on the Sea of Japan, in 1898 had not reached within 500 miles of Irkutsk on Lake Baikal, which marks roughly two-thirds of the whole distance of 4000 miles from St. Petersburg to Vladivostock as the crow flies.

The vast, inscrutable, dreaded giant Russia, lying right across the top of Europe and Asia, was ever pushing downwards to the south upon Turkey, Persia, Afghanistan and China, and reaching an arm sideways to the east and the sea across the upper corner of China. The shoulders of the British Empire were taking some of the weight; and lest China should crack under it and fly asunder, many people were urging that England should prop up that passive and unwieldy bulk, Lord Salisbury standing back to back with the Son of Heaven.

The common interest was of course commercial. Great Britain had 64 per cent. of China's total foreign trade, with some £32,000,000 a year; had invested some hundreds of millions in the Far East; and was amiably and openly desirous to invest a great deal more in what was largely an unexplored and an immense field of profit. But she wanted security, first.

It was Lord Charles Beresford's business to discover what were the existing commercial conditions, how they might be improved and extended, and what was the security required for so much improvement and extension. This enterprise was known as the policy of the "Open Door"; for the British principle was that all nations should enjoy equal opportunities. The alternative policy was known as "Spheres of Influence," which virtually meant the partition of the Chinese Empire among the nations of Europe. Such was the Russian policy, in which she was supported, or was believed to have been supported, by both France and Germany. Russian diplomacy was active at Pekin; Russian agents were numerous in the trading centres of China; and it was constantly alleged at the time by students of the subject, that the Chinese Government regarded Russia as a more {420} powerful friend than England. In the light of subsequent experience, it would perhaps be more accurate to say that whereas China hated and distrusted all foreigners, she hated and distrusted the English less than the Russians, but that the vacillations and inconsistencies of British policy had inspired her rulers with a deep suspicion.

A good deal of nonsense, inspired by a large and generous ignorance of Chinese conditions and affairs, was talked and written in 1898. China was represented as an eccentric barbarian of great size, of uncertain temper, but on the whole amenable to good advice, who was merely waiting pathetically for the English to teach him what to do and how to do it.

In truth, China, in 1898, that is, political China, while haunted by a dread of foreign aggression, was intensely occupied with her own affairs. These were indeed exigent enough. In the summer of 1898, occurred the Hundred Days of Reform, followed by the coup d'état, and the imprisonment of the Emperor. The visit of Lord Charles Beresford to China coincided with the triumph of the reactionary Conservative party at Court and the restoration to absolute power of the Empress Dowager, Tsu Hsi. The history of the affair is related in detail by Messrs. J. O. P. Bland and E. Backhouse, in their work, China under the Empress Dowager (Heinemann, 1910); but its intricacies were not divulged at the time. A study of the correspondence contained in the Blue Books of the period reveals the singular innocence of the British diplomatic methods employed at this critical moment.

The Emperor, Kuang-Hsu, who had always been at variance with his astute and powerful aunt, the Empress Dowager, the real ruler of China for fifty years, had espoused the cause of the Reform, or Chinese, party of the South, as distinguished from the Manchu, or Conservative, party of the North.

The enmity of the South towards the North, the latent inbred hostility of the Chinese to the Manchu, had been {421} roused to violence by the defeat of China by Japan in the war of 1894-5. It was very well known that the Empress Dowager had spent the money allocated to the Navy and other departments of State upon the rebuilding of the Summer Palace at Pekin and other æsthetic diversions. But the Empress Dowager, with her habitual skill, contrived to shift the responsibility for the disaster upon the puppet Emperor, who in fact was guiltless of it. The injustice so exasperated the young man, that he joined the Reform Party, and issued Decree after Decree, all of which were tinctured with Western ideas, and all of which were expressly repugnant to the Empress Dowager. Tzu Hsi, however, approved the Decrees without remark, biding her time. It came. The Emperor was induced to assent to a plot to seize the person of the Empress Dowager, and afterwards to sequester his terrible aunt for the rest of her life.

Now came the intromission of Yuan Shih Kai, who had been Imperial Resident in Corea. In 1898, he was Judicial Commissioner of Chihli, and exerted considerable influence at Court. Yuan Shih Kai, professing great interest in reform, won the confidence of the Emperor; who, believing that in Yuan he had gained an adherent at Court, informed him of the details of the conspiracy. That design included the assassination of Yung Lu. Now Yung Lu was Governor-General of Chihli, commander-in-chief of the foreign-drilled army, which was one of the efficient armies in China, an old friend and a loyal servant of the Empress Dowager, and altogether a most formidable person. The Emperor's plan was to slay Yung Lu swiftly, to put himself at the head of Yung Lu's ten thousand soldiers, and then to march with them upon Pekin and seize the Empress Dowager. All might have gone well, had not Yuan Shih Kai (according to Messrs. Bland and Backhouse) been blood-brother to Yung Lu, and also, presumably, loyal to the Empress Dowager. In any case, Yuan went straightway to Yung Lu and divulged the plot.


The next day, it was the Emperor Kuang Hsu, and not his aunt, who was ceremoniously escorted to prison.

Six of the conspirators were subsequently executed. Another, Kang Yu Wei, escaped under British protection in October, 1898. Dr. Sun Yat-sen was another fugitive. It was in October, 1898, that Lord Charles Beresford arrived at Pekin.

The Empress Dowager resumed the Regency and therewith the formal investiture of that supreme power which she had exercised since, as a girl of twenty-two, a lady in waiting at Court in the time of the Emperor Hsien-Feng, she had unofficially assumed the conduct of affairs, and which she continued to wield until the end. Yung Lu was appointed to be member of the Grand Council, and Minister of War. When he was in Pekin, Lord Charles Beresford had an interesting conversation with Yung Lu.

The Emperor Kuang Hsu remained imprisoned in his palace in the Ocean Terrace at Pekin; and it was rumoured throughout the South that he would presently die. Whether or not the Empress Dowager desired his death, she considered it politic, having regard to the anger which his dethronement inspired in the South, to keep him alive. Moreover, the British Minister, referring to the reports that "the Empress Dowager was about to proceed to extreme steps in regard to the Emperor," solemnly suggested that any such course of action would be highly repugnant to the susceptibilities of Foreign Powers.

Such, briefly indicated, was the posture of affairs in 1898, when the British Government was being urged to initiate a definite policy in China, and when Lord Charles Beresford went to investigate commercial conditions in that puzzling Empire. But the British Government had the rest of the world to consider, as well.

In the preceding year, 1897, it was announced that Russia would winter at Port Arthur; whereupon Lord Charles Beresford remarked in the House of Commons that the winter would probably be of long duration. Germany {423} was in occupation of Kiao Chao, originally demanded as compensation for the murder of a German missionary—a most profitable martyrdom. There were troubles on the Indian frontier; there was fighting in Crete, and consequently there was danger of a war breaking out between Greece and Turkey. It is sufficiently obvious that, under such conditions—at a time when the European nations were each waiting to take of China what it could get; when Russia was more or less in agreement with France and Germany; and when England stood alone;—any very definite move on her part might have led to bigger difficulties than she cared to encounter. At any rate, peace was maintained; the policy of the "Open Door" prevailed; and the influence exerted by Lord Charles Beresford upon international affairs, although perhaps not to be defined, was considerable. For further information concerning this epoch, the student may be referred to China under the Empress Dowager, by Messrs. J. O. P. Bland and E. Backhouse (Heinemann, 1910); China in Transformation, by A. R. Colquhoun (Harper, 1898); and the Blue-book China. No. 1 (1899) C.—9131.

While one British admiral, Rear-Admiral Noel, stopped the trouble in Crete, which had defeated the united intellect of Europe for generations; another, Rear-Admiral Lord Charles Beresford, was employed in conducting a swifter, more thorough and more practical investigation into the commercial military and social conditions of China than had ever before been accomplished; so that its results, set forth at the time in the admiral's many speeches and afterwards in his book The Break-up of China, struck the two great English-speaking peoples of the world, the British and the American nations, with something of the force of a revelation.



In August, 1898, I received from the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Great Britain, whose President was Sir Stafford Northcote, an invitation to proceed on their behalf to China, "to obtain accurate information as to how security is to be ensured to commercial men who may be disposed to embark their capital in trade enterprise in China." Sir Stafford Northcote added that he desired to obtain a report on these matters from a "non-official source," and that, further, it should be supplied by an officer of naval or military experience, by reason of the importance of the question of adequate protection for British commercial ventures.

Accompanied by Mr. Robin Grey, who acted as an additional secretary, and by my secretary, Mr. Macdonald, I sailed for China towards the end of August. My commission, to report on the future prospects of British trade and commerce in China and especially to what extent the Chinese Government would guarantee the safe employment of British capital, was sufficiently wide in its scope.

At that time, there was much public discussion concerning the rivalry manifesting itself among the European nations interested in China, particularly with regard to railway concessions and like privileges. The public in general were of opinion that the British Government was very slow to assert British rights. In July, 1898, Sir Claude Macdonald, British Plenipotentiary at the Court of Pekin, was "authorised to inform the Chinese Government that Her Majesty's Government {425} will support them in resisting any Power which commits an act of aggression on China or on account of China having granted permission to make or support any railway or public work to a British subject."

This was something, but it was not much; for China, comparing British assurances with Russian actions, entertained her own opinion concerning their comparative value. Nevertheless, the British policy was quite definitely the policy of the "Open Door"; which Mr. Balfour defined (10th August, 1898) as "the right of importing goods at the same rate that every nation imports goods, the same right of using railways that other nations possess. In other words, equal trade opportunities." The alternative policy of "Spheres of Influence," Mr. Balfour oracularly described as "a wholly different set of questions connected with concessions, and they cannot be treated in the same simple and obvious manner." But in what the treatment should consist, the public were not told.

It was not, perhaps, understood by the public at the time, how delicate was the international situation, nor how serious might be the consequences, not only of hasty action but, of any decisive action; and although it did not necessarily follow that nothing should be done, the difficulties and complications, many of which were known only to the Government, should be taken into consideration.

Russia was establishing herself in Manchuria, and was arming Port Arthur and Talienwan. Germany had declined to pledge herself not to levy preferential duties at Kiao Chao, and claimed exclusive rights over railway construction through the Shantung Province. France was claiming preferential rights with regard to her leasehold in Southern China. France and Russia were interesting themselves in the sanctioned trunk line from Pekin to Hankow and from Hankow to the south.

Nothing was settled with regard to the important question of the rights over the Yangtse basin.

Lord Salisbury had stated that he did not consider it to {426} be the duty of Her Majesty's Government to make railways in China, or to find the money to make them; and both Lord Salisbury and Mr. Curzon (afterwards Viscount Curzon of Kedleston) affirmed that the failure of British syndicates to apply for concessions in China was due to their lack of initiative.

On the other hand, it was argued in the Press that the lack of initiative on the part of British enterprise was due to the lack of support and to the absence of a definite policy on the part of the Government, a criticism which, among others, was formulated by Sir Edward Grey, who was then of course in Opposition.

At the same time, underlying these controversies, there was the consciousness that detailed practical information concerning the real posture of affairs in China was lacking. Under these conditions, considerable responsibility attached to the task upon which I had entered. Its rapid and successful fulfilment clearly depended upon the method of its organisation. Before starting, a letter was addressed by me to every Chamber of Commerce in China, requesting it to prepare a report giving details of:

1. The State of British trade now.

2. The state of British trade ten years ago.

3. The state of foreign trade.

4. Increase and decrease of trade.

By this means, the reports were ready for me upon my arrival; and I was immediately placed in possession of the material which served to guide my inquiries and upon which I could base my observations. As these are set forth in detail, in my book The Break-up of China, published by Messrs. Harper and Brothers in 1899, and as the conditions have since changed, I do not propose to repeat them at length in these pages. I have here to acknowledge the courtesy of Messrs. Harper and Brothers in granting me permission to quote from The Break-up of China.

I wrote that work in thirty-one days; a feat of which I was {427} not unjustly proud; for it was a long book, crammed with facts and statistics, extracted from a pile of memoranda and documents three feet high. I used to ride before breakfast in Richmond Park; after breakfast, I worked all day until 7.30; and when I had finished the book, I said I would never write another.

While I was on my way to China—while all the Chambers of Commerce in China were hard at it compiling reports for me—a brother officer, Rear-Admiral Noel, was engaged in settling, in his own supreme way, a difficulty which had long exercised the Chancelleries of Europe in vain, and which might at any moment have given rise to what are called European complications.

In January, 1897, broke out the insurrection of the Christians in Crete; which, put shortly, was the result of two centuries of oppression under Moslem rule. During the previous year (to go no farther back) the Sultan of Turkey, at the request of the Powers of Europe, had promised to introduce certain reforms. As these were not carried into execution, the Cretan Christians, encouraged thereto by Greece and aided by Greek soldiery, rose in rebellion. Roughly speaking, the Christians held the country districts, and the Turkish garrison, reinforced by an irregular and undisciplined horde of Bashi-Bazouks, occupied the towns. No doubt but Turkey could have put down the revolt by extensive bloodshed; but the Powers of Europe had forbidden the Sultan either to reinforce his garrison in Crete, or (at first) to make war upon the insurgents. The Powers were therefore morally bound to restore order themselves. Recognising this obligation, they dispatched men-of-war to Crete. Italy, France, Russia, Austria, Great Britain and Germany were represented. Vice-Admiral Count N. Canevaro, the Italian, being senior officer, was president of the Council of Admirals. Great Britain was represented by Rear-Admiral Sir Robert Harris. The admirals arrived off Canea in February, 1897; intercepted and sent away a Greek squadron of reinforcements; {428} established a blockade; and proceeded, as best they might, to enforce order. They succeeded for the time being; but it was not within their province to attempt a radical remedy. So long as the Turks remained in Crete, so long would the trouble continue. The Christians dared not resume their occupations, for fear of a further outbreak of Moslem aggression, when they could not rely upon the Turkish garrison for protection; the Moslems, dreading Christian reprisals, clung to the Turkish troops as their only salvation.

In the face of this dilemma, Germany and Austria withdrew from the concert, and the island remained in charge of Great Britain, France, Russia and Italy, each Power being assigned a district. Great Britain retained Candia, where the British garrison was reduced to one regiment, the Highland Light Infantry. The discontent, temporarily quelled, soon became acute.

The decision of the Council of Admirals to collect a proportion of the export duties aroused intense indignation. When, on 6th September, 1898, the British came to take over the Custom House at Candia, the mob rose, attacked the tiny force of British seamen and soldiers and the British camp and hospital, and massacred some 500 Christians in the town. The British fought like heroes and lost heavily; but for the moment they were helpless; the only man-of-war off Candia being the gunboat Hazard.

Then, on 11th September, Rear-Admiral Gerard Noel (now Admiral of the Fleet Sir Gerard H. U. Noel, G.C.B., K.C.M.G.), who had relieved Sir Robert Harris early in the year, arrived at Candia in H.M.S. Revenge. The next day, he landed, inspected the scenes of the recent fighting and ordered the Turkish governor, Edhem Pasha, to repair on board the Revenge.

Admiral Noel required the governor to demolish all houses from which the insurgents had fired upon the British camp and hospital; to give up to British troops certain forts and positions; and to surrender the principal persons concerned in the rioting and attack. The admiral also {429} informed the governor that the Moslem population would be disarmed.

The governor broke into a cold perspiration and accepted the admiral's demands. He was then suffering under the delusion that he could evade them. He never made a bigger mistake. When he tried to avoid the demolition of the houses, he was suddenly confronted with the spectacle of two hundred British seamen coming ashore to do the work, and hurriedly gave in. When he endeavoured to postpone the delivery of the prisoners, he was informed that if they were not delivered by the hour appointed, they would be taken. His every excuse and pretext were met by the same composed and invincible determination. At the last moment, when the scaffold awaiting the malefactors stood stark upon the highest point of the bastions, Edhem Pasha's frantic plea for delay was received by a terse intimation that if he did not hang the prisoners, he, Edhem Pasha, would himself be hanged.

The disturbers of peace were hanged at the precise time appointed; and swung in a row until sundown, in sight of all the city. Twice again the bodies of murderers darkened above the ramparts, to the abiding terror of evil-doers.

The Powers ordered the evacuation of the island by the Turks within a month, which expired on 5th December. On the evening of the 4th, some 600 troops had still to leave, together with their women, horses and baggage. Admiral Noel ordered the baggage to be embarked on board the British transport Ocampo and a small Turkish transport that night. Next day, the governor, Shefket Bey (who had succeeded Edhem Pasha), informed the admiral that he had received orders from the Governor of Crete to keep the remaining troops and to disembark the baggage. What followed is described in an account of the affair contributed by "A Naval Officer" to The United Service Magazine, February, 1899.

"An armed boat was sent to prevent interference with {430} the Turkish transport. The admiral signalled to the Fleet: 'Prepare to man and arm boats. I intend to compel the Turkish troops to embark by force after noon'; and to the commandant of British troops, 'All Turkish troops remaining in the town after noon are to be made prisoners and compelled to embark at the quay.'"

It was a bold decision, worthy of the Royal Navy. For all the admiral knew, the Turks might have fought, in which case they would have been reinforced by some thousands of Bashi-Bazouks. But they gave in, and were marched on board. Their "furniture, beds, pianos, carpets and general loot and rubbish, making a pile as big as a frigate," says the eye-witness aforesaid, "which, together with nearly three hundred horses, was bundled into boats and lighters by the seamen of the Revenge and Empress of India, and stowed away on board the transports, the work taking all night."

Thus did Rear-Admiral Gerard Noel cut the knot which all the diplomatists in Europe had failed to unloose. The Marquess of Salisbury publicly complimented the admirals upon their diplomatic ability, saying that he wished the Cabinets of Europe could work together with equal unanimity and rapidity.

In December, 1908, H.R.H. Prince George of Greece took over the government of Crete from the admirals.

The settlement of the Cretan difficulty undoubtedly exercised an appreciable effect upon the international situation, with which my own enterprise in China was necessarily connected. For Admiral Noel had removed what had been a chronic danger to the peace of Europe; and in so doing had demonstrated that combined action on the part of the Great Powers (if entrusted to naval officers) could be both cordially conducted and successfully accomplished. I have recalled the affair, not only because it gives me pleasure to record the ability, courage and resolution of my old friend and brother officer, but because no account of the time, lacking the Cretan episode, can be wholly intelligible. For, {431} although it is consistently neglected by political historians, whose views are usually distorted by party, it remains, and will remain, a classic example of the consummate exercise of British sea-power for the inspiration and instruction of honest men.





On my way up to Pekin, I visited Hong Kong, arriving there on 30th September. The island of Hong Kong, being British territory, is a city of refuge; to which sanctuary, just before my arrival, had fled Kang Yu Wei, the leader of the Reform Party. To the influence of Kang Yu Wei may be ascribed the conversion of the young Emperor, Kuang Hsu, to Reform; and the issue by the Son of Heaven of the series of Decrees, during the Hundred Days of Reform of the preceding summer. The movement culminated in the plot to seize the person of the Empress Dowager, which was frustrated by the coup d'état. But before that decisive event occurred, Kang Yu Wei receiving a broad hint from the Emperor that his arrest had been ordered by the Empress Dowager, took the next train from Pekin to Tongku, and embarked on board the coasting steamer Chungking bound for Shanghai.

The Taotai at Shanghai informed Acting-Consul-General Brenan that he had received orders to arrest Kang Yu Wei upon his arrival, and that a reward of 2000 dollars was offered for his capture, and requested Mr. Brenan to search for the fugitive in all British ships arriving at Shanghai. By this time the Chinese detectives and policemen were wildly excited by the prospect of securing 2000 dollars that Mr. Brenan feared they would attempt forcibly to {433} board British ships before they entered the harbour. He therefore determined to intercept the Chungking before the Chinese officials could reach her; but desiring to avoid the open implication of the Consulate in the matter, he accepted the services volunteered by Mr. J. O. P. Bland (joint author of China under the Empress Dowager). Mr. Bland, who spoke Chinese, took a steam-launch, met the Chungking some miles out at sea, transhipped Kang Yu Wei, and put him on board the P. and O. steamer Ballaarat, then lying outside Woosung. Captain Field, commanding the Ballaarat, placed an armed sentry upon Kang Yu Wei's cabin. The people in the Chungking, knowing that H.M.S. Esk was at Woosung, told the Chinese officials at Shanghai that Kang Yu Wei had been put on board her. This information diverted attention from the Ballaarat for the moment.

The Chinese officials, however, eventually determined to follow the Ballaarat in a gunboat, when, two days later (29th September), the Ballaarat sailed for Hong Kong. The British authorities, learning also that two more Chinese gunboats were ordered to lie in wait for the P. and O. boat, arranged that she should be escorted to Hong Kong by H.M. cruiser Bonaventure, commanded by my old friend and brother-in-arms in the Soudan campaign, Captain R. A. J. Montgomerie. Being pursued by the Chinese gunboat, Montgomerie cleared for action; luckily for them, the Chinese declined to risk an affair with one of the finest fighting officers in Her Majesty's service; and Kang Yu Wei was landed in safety at Hong Kong. Here, Major-General Black placed him under police protection. The procedure followed by Captain Montgomerie in accordance with the orders of Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Seymour, then commander-in-chief on the China station, not only saved the life of the patriot Kang Yu Wei, but prevented the occurrence of the difficulties which would have arisen had the Chinese attempted to board the Ballaarat.

With the object of ascertaining the views of the Reform Party concerning the future of China and its relation to the {434} extension of trade and commerce, I invited Kang Yu Wei to visit me. He arrived surrounded by a bodyguard of policemen, for a price was set on his head. Apparently the poor man felt it already loose, for, as he talked, he kept turning it over his shoulder; and little wonder; for it was only three or four days since his brother and five of his colleagues had been executed in Pekin.

"Reforms in the East," said Kang Yu Wei, "invariably demanded martyrs; and, if China did not go to pieces in the meantime, posterity would honour the six dead gentlemen." In reply to my question as to the present position of the Reform Party, he said it was "completely crushed, but not killed," and would ere long revive; a prophecy which has been fulfilled.

Kang Yu Wei affirmed that, contrary to the general opinion abroad, all educated Chinamen believed that Reform alone could prevent the dissolution of an Empire 4000 years old; that by degrees the mass of the people were accepting the new doctrines; that the Reformers relied upon Great Britain to help them to carry their schemes into execution; and that, were they to attain power, they would certainly open China to the trade and commerce of the world, because such a policy would increase the strength and riches of the Empire.

The impression left upon my mind by Kang Yu Wei was that he was loyal, patriotic, and unselfishly devoted to his country, and undoubtedly he was in earnest.


In the course of many conversations held with the compradors (managers) of the great mercantile houses in China, I ascertained that, while several of them were frankly in favour of Reform, all of them agreed that the Reformers had acted in haste, neglecting to prepare their way by means of careful organisation.


Arriving at Pekin on 16th October, 1898, I was kindly invited by Sir Claude Macdonald, British Minister {435} Plenipotentiary, to stay at the Legation. To all Foreign Ministers accredited to Pekin I paid my respects and presented my credentials, which were given to me by the President of the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Great Britain, Sir Stafford Northcote, and which showed that I had been asked to make a report on British trade and commerce, its future development, and what security existed throughout the Chinese Empire for such trade and commerce.

On 20th October, I visited the Tsung-li Yamen; a body created, in 1861, for the purpose of conducting diplomatic negotiations with the representatives of Foreign Powers, and consisting of eight members, of whom three are Manchus and five are Chinese. I was presented to Prince Ching, the President, and was requested to address the members. In my speech, I dwelt upon the anxiety as to the future on the part of British traders on account of the want of security for capital, and the ignoring of treaties by the Chinese; suggested that, unless China organised her military and police forces in order to give security for trade and commerce, foreign countries would adopt the policy embodied in the expression "Spheres of Influence"; affirmed that the British desired no addition to be made to the British Empire, either in the nature of dominion, sphere of influence, or protectorate; explained that what the commercial communities desired was free and uninterrupted opportunities for trade, with equal rights and privileges for all the nations of the world, a policy expressed by the words "Open Door"; and stated that in order to establish such a policy, it was essential that China should maintain her integrity.

Prince Ching asked me how I thought trade and commerce could be better protected that it was at present.

I replied that the only effective method would be thoroughly to reorganise the Chinese army, abolishing the system of maintaining provincial armies; that, as Great Britain had 64 per cent. of the whole foreign trade of China, she was naturally anxious as to its adequate security; and that it was possible that the British Government would allow {436} a British officer to assist the Chinese in putting their army in order; adding that I had no official authority whatever to make the statement, but merely put it forward as a suggestion. I also suggested that should the Chinese Government consider the proposal, it might be well for them to invite other nations which had large trading interests with China, to lend a few officers and non-commissioned officers to work with the British in the reorganisation of the army.

Prince Ching observed that they already had German officers to drill some of their troops; and that Captain Lang, the British naval officer, was in the Chinese service to help them to organise their Fleet. He did not mention, however, what I afterwards discovered, that Captain Lang had found the admiral sitting on the quarter-deck playing fan-tan with his own sentry. Captain Lang subsequently resigned his appointment.

When Prince Ching and some members of the Tsung-li Yamen returned my visit, Prince Ching informed me that the Emperor and the Empress Dowager approved of my suggestions; and that his Excellency Chung Chi Tung, Viceroy of Hunan and Hupeh, had been ordered to have 2000 of his troops ready to be placed under a British officer for drill and organisation, as an experiment, which might possibly lead to the reorganisation of the army as a whole. I replied that as I was in no way authorised to take any responsibility with regard to this matter, any action taken on the part of the Tsung-ii Yamen must go through the British Minister to the British Government. Prince Ching said that it was the intention of the Tsung-li Yamen formally to inform Sir Claude Macdonald of the wishes of the Chinese Government.

My interpreter on these occasions was Mr. Fulford of the British Legation, and all that passed between myself and the high Chinese officials in Pekin was made known by Mr. Fulford to the British Minister.

The question of providing adequate security for British subjects and for British trade and commerce, was thus {437} frankly raised at the beginning. Indeed, all hinged upon its solution. The safety of life and property always depends ultimately upon disciplined force. The force at the disposal of the Chinese Government was scattered, ill-organised and largely inefficient. But, with the men, money and resources actually available, it would have been perfectly feasible to have formed an army of a million men. Such was my view at the time, and I have seen no reason to change it since.

At the request of the Tsung-li Yamen, I drew up the entire scheme complete in every detail for the organisation of the Chinese army; and on several occasions it was discussed with me by the Chinese Ministers at great length.

Briefly described, my scheme was based upon the principle upon which the Imperial Maritime Customs had been formed. The Imperial Maritime Customs was charged with the duty of collecting Custom House dues, which were hypothecated to secure the external indebtedness of China. All nations were represented upon it, and, because Great Britain possessed by far the larger share of Chinese trade, a British officer was placed at its head. The business was impartially managed under the Chinese Government for the common welfare of China and of other nations; and in the result the arrangement worked admirably.

The proposal was, then, to organise the army upon the same basis; appointing officers of those nations who owned interests in China; and, as Great Britain possessed the largest interests, placing a British officer in command under the Chinese Government. Under these conditions, the army would be enabled to secure China both against foreign aggression and internal disturbance. In a word, it would ensure stable government. Under existing conditions, stable government was impossible; for the methods of the Empress Dowager consisted in playing off one party against another, and one viceroy against another. Tsu Hsi succeeded in maintaining her personal ascendancy; but at the cost of so weakening the State, that it was liable to fall a prey to foreign ambition and foreign cupidity.


The Chinese high officials argued the whole subject with great acumen. They objected that the commander-in-chief might embark upon a career of personal aggrandisement. I replied that as he would be under the Chinese Government, and that as he would be further restricted by his dependence upon an international body of officers, there could be no such danger. And I asked the Chinese whether they had any reason to be dissatisfied with Sir Robert Hart's administration of the Customs. They answered at once that his services were invaluable to China, and said that he worked so hard in Chinese interests that "he might have been a Chinaman."

I then pointed out that a British officer at the head of the army would occupy the same position with regard to the army as Sir Robert Hart occupied with regard to the Customs; offered to select for them the best general I could find for the executive command; and informed them that I was myself prepared to undertake the administrative command.

The objection that the creation of such an army might offend foreign susceptibilities, was also met by the argument that foreign officers would command it.

In reply to a courteous question, I stated that my object in proposing the scheme was to benefit China; and that the reason why I desired to benefit China was that an improvement in Chinese administration must necessarily profit British interests.

I also discussed the subject with his Excellency Yung Lu, he who had executed the coup d'état which resulted in the defeat of the Reformers and the imprisonment of the Emperor Kuang Hsu. Yung Lu, who commanded one of the foreign-drilled armies, stated that the reorganisation of the Chinese army under British and foreign officers would be carried into execution; and asked me whether, supposing that China put the whole of her armies under British officers, Great Britain would assist her in any quarrel that might arise between her and any other Power.


The direct question was highly significant.

My reply, of course, was that I was unable to discuss political questions; but that Great Britain had no desire to involve herself in quarrels which might arise among other countries.

Yung Lu courteously invited me to visit the military forces then quartered round Pekin; a privilege of which I afterwards availed myself.

Having formulated my scheme for the reorganisation of the Chinese army, founded upon a general knowledge of the requirements of the situation, I proceeded to fulfil in detail that part of my instructions received from the President of the Associated Chambers of Commerce directing me to report "whether the organisation of the Chinese civil and military administration is sufficiently complete to ensure adequate protection to commercial ventures." Accordingly, I visited all the forts and arsenals forming the coast and river defences of the Chinese Empire, and utilised the opportunities, most courteously extended to me by the various viceroys, of inspecting the Imperial military forces.

For the sake of simplicity, the results of my investigations into military and naval conditions are here grouped together; although these investigations were necessarily conducted side by side with my inquiries into commercial affairs, the two elements being often present in the same locality.

China's military forces were then sharply divided between Manchu and Chinese, or North and South. The Manchu, or Northern, forces were manned and officered entirely by Manchus, and enjoyed privileges which were denied to the Chinese army. Nearly every Southern army was commanded by two generals, a Manchu and a Chinese, the Manchu being the real head.

The provincial armies are maintained at the expense of the viceroys. In the Province of Chihli, General Yuan Shih Kai's army, and the Imperial armies at and around Pekin, are maintained by the Board of Revenue out of {440} Imperial taxes; so that the Imperial armies permanently quartered round Pekin are State-paid. The generals in command of the Provinces administer their armies entirely according to their own discretion. As these officers are responsible for the payment and maintenance of the forces under their command, much of the money which should go to the army is apt to stick with its general.

When I mentioned these circumstances to the members of the Tsung-li Yamen, one of them blandly asked me if I included his army in my description.

I replied that his Excellency could not but be aware that he received supplies of pay, clothes and rice for an establishment of 10,000, although the actual number was one half or less; and that when his army was inspected, he filled the ranks by hiring coolies for the occasion. My response evoked an irreverent outburst of applause from the interested audience of coolies. "The English Mandarin," they cried, "knows all about our old mandarins! That is just what happens."


In October, 1898, I went to Hsiao Chao to visit Yuan Shih Kai, the high official who informed Yung Lu of the plot of the Reformers to seize the Empress Dowager, and so brought about the coup d'état. I remained two days and a night with the general; witnessed the parade of all his troops, and their manoeuvres, and examined their equipment and victualling. I was permitted to examine the pay-sheets, and obtained every detail connected with the establishment and maintenance of the force.

General Yuan Shih Kai is a Chinaman, and his army was composed of Chinese. It numbered 7400 men. They appeared to be smart, of fine physique, well fed, and their uniforms were well kept. Their parade and manoeuvres were smartly executed, their discipline was excellent. All their equipment was serviceable and efficient, with the exception of their artillery.


It was on this occasion that I had a conversation with Yuan Shih Kai, which, in the light of subsequent events in China, it may be not uninteresting to recall.

Yuan Shih Kai expressed his anxiety concerning the future of his country; which, he said, was in a lamentable state of weakness, and which the States of Europe were desirous of dividing among themselves; and in this connection he was inclined favourably to regard the proposal to combine the various Chinese armies into one great Imperial force.

Upon that, I asked Yuan if he were acquainted with the history of China. Being one of the governing class, and therefore a scholar of the ancient meticulous pedantic class, he probably knew the whole of it by heart; and he replied in the affirmative.

"Then," I said, "have you not observed that every Chinese dynasty has been founded by a successful general?"

The man who is now (1913) President of the Chinese Republic looked at me impassive as a statue, and held his peace.

Yuan Shih Kai was well aware of the fact that throughout the East the ruler is always "He," never "They"; and for this reason he subsequently endeavoured, after the death of the Empress Dowager, to preserve the authority of the Emperor.

Years afterwards, before leaving England for China, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, who was accompanied by General Homer Lea of the United States, lunched with me. General Homer Lea was, I think, to conduct the reorganisation of the Chinese army.


The armies which I had the privilege of inspecting, or concerning which I obtained information, were: the army of General Sung, distributed along the coast about Kinchow, which apparently consisted of 10,000 men out of a paper strength of 20,000; the army of General Soon Ching at {442} Lutai, which was also at half strength, consisting of 7000 men out of 15,000, distributed among 30 camps, and having some Russian officers; and the army of General Tung Fu Chan, near Pekin, which was a disorderly and an undisciplined rabble; the army of General Nieh, which consisted of about 13,000 men, distributed among 30 camps between Hsiao Chao and Tientsin, with five Russian instructors; the Pekin Field Force, which was commanded from the Palace, and which consisted of 10,000 picked men, well armed but badly drilled; the cavalry camp at Kaiping, theoretically consisting of 1500 men, and having three Russian officers; and the army of General Yi Ke Tong, consisting of from 8000 to 15,000 men scattered about in Manchuria. I also saw the armies, or some part of them, of the Viceroys Chung Chai Tung, Liu Kwen Yi, Hsu Ying Kwei, Tau Chung Liu, and Kwei. Besides these, I was informed that there were in Mongolia 100,000 cavalry.

Among the various armies were distributed 14 different patterns of rifles, varying from the Mauser to the gingal. Some contingents were armed with bows and arrows; others carried bird-cages and fans, being distinguishable as soldiers only by their badge. The armies exhibited as many degrees of efficiency among themselves as their weapons.

Nevertheless, I came to the conclusion that here was all the material from which to evolve an excellent army. The Chinese have all the qualities of a good soldier: they are sober, obedient, quick to learn and courageous. The requirements were proper food, pay, clothing, drill and competent officers.

While I was at Newchwang I obtained what information was available with regard to the numbers and location of the Russian troops in Eastern Siberia and in Manchuria The total number was then about 12,000 men.

In the course of my inspection, at the Viceroy's invitation, of the powerful forts on the Yangtse River, I observed that one fort, which was intended to fire up the river, was so constructed that only one gun out of six could be trained in {443} the required direction, so that if the other guns were brought to bear, the guns' crews would be killed. The face of the fort, instead of being at right angles to the course of the river, was parallel to it. At my suggestion, a dummy figure was placed in position; a gun was fired in the required direction; and sure enough the shot blew the effigy to pieces and went wandering among the junks crowding the river. The Chinese said that the English Mandarin was the cleverest mandarin they had ever seen; and explained that the fort had not been built in the right position because the ground was swampy.

Among my observations of forts elsewhere, I noted a battery of 60-ton muzzle-loading guns, which were loaded by depressing their muzzles into the magazine. I ventured to suggest that any carelessness in sponging out the guns might result in the explosion of the magazine. The general said that the English Mandarin was extraordinarily clever; and explained that a year previously a magazine had been blown up for the very reason I had indicated, had killed forty-two men, and had then been rebuilt upon the same plan.

At another fort I noted that the powder used for the heavy guns was unsuitable, and ventured to suggest that it might burst the gun.

"Yes, it does," said the general simply. "We have lately blown the breech off two 12-inch 50-ton Krupp guns, killing and wounding thirty men." And he congratulated the English Mandarin upon his extraordinary powers of divination. After the general's explanation I understood how it was that in another fort two 12-inch Krupp guns were fitted with Armstrong breech mechanism. The Krupp breech having been blown off, the Shanghai arsenal had neatly fitted them with Armstrong breeches.

Observing that a powder-mill at Canton had open gratings for windows, and stood in the midst of a sandy plain, I ventured to suggest that the sand might blow in, and that a spark from it might cause an explosion.

"Yes, it does," said the mandarin. "It blew up two {444} years ago and killed and wounded twenty men." He added that although it had been rebuilt upon the same plan, it was not intended to use it again; and expressed his admiration for my remarkable penetration.

At one of the arsenals, the workman boring a 6-pounder gun had his speed too fast and his feed too thick, so that his machine was taking out chips of metal and jumping under the strain. My guide observed placidly that the man didn't seem to know how to do it. The European instructor, he explained, had left. I offered to replace him for the occasion; took off my coat; and being an old hand at the lathe managed to set the machine right in about an hour's work. Then there suddenly arose a great crying and calling among the coolies outside. I thought a riot was beginning; but the tumult was only the coolies in their innocent way screaming their delight that "the English Mandarin could do what their own old mandarins couldn't."

I drew up a report with regard to the forts and arsenals in China. The general conclusion was that enormous sums of money were being expended on war material which, in most cases, was totally useless, although the establishments were often capable, under European instructors, of turning out work which would compare with the best in Europe. Two or three of these arsenals, rightly managed, would serve to equip a million men for less money than was already being expended.


I also visited the Chinese Navy, which was divided into two squadrons, the Peyang squadron in the North and the Nanyang squadron in the South. The Peyang squadron consisted of three cruisers, one torpedo cruiser, and one torpedo gunboat. The Nanyang squadron was composed of seven cruisers, four old gunboats, and four torpedo boats. The Fleet as a whole was undermanned, but there were many men who had been well trained by English instructors. The only dockyard is at Foochow.


Many Chinese authorities having asked my advice as to the fleet, I recommended them to put their ships in order for police purposes, and to utilise them for the purpose of checking piracy; advised them not to spend any more money on their navy, because their army was of greater importance; and pointed out the waste involved in keeping about the coasts and in the river hundreds of man-of-war junks.

Throughout China, I found among the high officials at least an ostensible agreement with my views concerning the necessity of reorganising the army: agreement which was no doubt largely dictated by the very present fear of Russian aggression.

His Excellency Li Hung Chang, whom I visited, was an exception to the rule; for the great Minister, one of the Six Grand Secretaries, was growing old and infirm; and having offended the Reform Party, it was not improbable that he was looking to Russia to protect him in case the Empress Dowager's support failed him. His case was typical of the Chinese attitude, in which the regard for personal wealth and safety, threatened so subtly and from so many dark quarters, is naturally apt to override patriotism.

At the same time, China is one of the most democratic countries in the world. I have seen the great Li Hung Chang stepping into the Yamen over the bodies of the coolies, who refused to move and who chaffed him as he passed. I have seen a whole Council huddle up their fans and disperse like startled poultry, because a coolie put his head in at the door and exhorted the old gentlemen to be quick, because it was going to rain, and the coolies were going home.

It is the rule of the road in China that all passengers must give way to carriers of burdens, and it was enforced without respect of persons. Being carried in a sedan, with four bearers and four coolies running alongside, I was horrified to perceive the head coolie incontinently knock down an {446} old mandarin who was in the way. The poor old gentleman rolled over and over, Red Button and all; and when he arose, his gorgeous silks all befouled with mud, the coolie spat in his face. China is full of the unexpected.


As already explained, the two aspects of my investigations, the military conditions and the commercial conditions, are here treated separately for the sake of simplicity, although at the time they were necessarily conducted together. The following brief account of the results of my inquiries into the state of trade and commerce contains those particulars which may still retain their interest.

From Pekin I went to Tientsin, where I attended a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce, which vehemently protested against the "Sphere of Influence" policy, declaring that the future trade of Tientsin would be entirely dependent on preserving the integrity of China, and upon the existence of a guarantee of the policy of the "Open Door." The British section of the Chamber of Commerce presented to me a memorandum, which they desired me to transmit to the Associated Chambers of Commerce in England, protesting against the absence of any definite policy, and stating that considerable anxiety existed with regard to the safety of capital already invested in China. The fear of Russian aggression had virtually paralysed the movement of capital in the northern part of China. The general opinion was that if the "Open Door" policy were established and secured, these apprehensions would disappear.

I was most courteously received by the Chinese authorities at Tientsin, who expressed great friendliness towards Great Britain; and who, as usual, affirmed that China was helpless and that all the European countries were taking advantage of her weakness. In the case of Russia, they stated that concessions were being demanded throughout the whole country which China was unable to refuse.


From Tientsin I went to Tongshan, travelling upon the Shanhaikwan railway, which had been built by Scotch engineers under the direction of Mr. Kinder, a British subject of great talent and energy, who had married a Japanese lady. Of the two people whom I met who seemed to me really to possess an intimate knowledge of China and the Chinese, Mr. Kinder was one. The other was Dr. Morrison, The Times correspondent.

With Mr. Kinder's assistance, I collected the whole of the statistics regarding the working of the Tongshan railway workshops, of the Shanhaikwan railway, and of the coal mine, in which Chinese miners were employed under European foremen.

Upon my arrival at Newchang, I was received by the British residents. The British merchants here, like the others elsewhere, wished me to represent to the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Great Britain that trade in the North of China must be secured against foreign aggression, and transmitted to me a number of resolutions to this effect.

The Russians had settled at Newchang, taking the land without permission, and paying the native occupiers nominal prices. Since 1897 the Russians had been pouring troops into Manchuria, and their number was steadily increasing. I prepared a detailed report upon the trade of Newchang.

Chefoo I visited twice, first on 13th October and again on 9th November. The British merchants here complained of the extension of German interest, which began with the opening of Kiao Chao. I thought, however, that their alarm was not justified. Kiao Chao had been declared by Germany to be an open port.

Upon visiting Wei-hai-wei, I observed that with a comparatively small expenditure of money it could be made into a most efficient and powerful naval base. Already, in the few months which had elapsed since the British flag was hoisted on 24th May, 1898, Commander {448} E. F. A. Gaunt (now Commodore Gaunt, C.M.G.), in command of a party of bluejackets and Marines, had accomplished a most admirable piece of administrative work, in cleaning up the place and in enforcing law and order so tactfully and skilfully that the only punishments inflicted had consisted in docking the pigtails of two offenders. There were no guns mounted at Wei-hai-wei; but at Port Arthur, 80 miles distant northwards across Korea Bay, the Russians had already mounted seventy guns.

I also observed that the island of Wei-hai-wei, which is two-thirds the size of Gibraltar, was the best place on the China Station for the establishment of a sanatorium for the Fleet.

My visit to Kiao Chao was made in response to a cordial invitation sent to me by Rear-Admiral H.R.H. Prince Henry of Prussia. The harbour is a difficult place for vessels to make, particularly in foggy weather. The Germans were as busy as bees, clearing the ground, building barracks, making parade grounds and preparing emplacements for guns. Prince Henry was most kind to me, and showed to me everything. His administration and organisation were admirable; and afforded another example of the achievements of naval officers.

But the place was still under military rule, which discourages commerce. On my voyage out, three Germans had come on board at Singapore. They told me that, although they had been very happy under British rule, they preferred their own colony, and intended to start a hotel at Kiao Chao. Some time afterwards I met those three patriotic Germans again. They were on their way back to Singapore; because, so they said, they could not make a living at Kiao Chao! They told me that they were obliged to pay a tax of five per cent. upon their investment, with the prospect of paying another five per cent. when, after a period of years, their property should again be surveyed.

At Shanghai, which, being situated at the entrance Of {449} the Yangtse Valley, is the most important Treaty Port in the Far East, I framed an elaborate report upon its trade. The China Association presented to me a memorandum containing the usual protest against the insecurity of British interests in China.

While I was at Shanghai I had three interviews with the Marquess Ito, lately Prime Minister of Japan. The Marquess, I believe, was unofficially employed in endeavouring to extend Japanese interests in China. He expressed the greatest friendliness towards Great Britain. During the political disturbances in Japan, the Marquess Ito had fled to England as a sailor before the mast in a British vessel. He told me that, landing at Gravesend very hungry, he went into a shop and bought a loaf, putting down half a sovereign. The shopman, presumably taking advantage of the fact that he was a Japanese, refused to give him the change. The Marquess told me that he was sadly shocked; for, until that moment, he had believed the English to be the most honest people in the world.

In Shanghai, I learned that one of the leaders of the Reform Party, Huang Chin, a victim of the coup d'état, had been arrested and was about to be sent to Nanking for execution. I urged his Excellency Kwei Chun, Viceroy of Szechuan, to use his influence to save Huang's life, pointing out to him that these political executions were exceedingly distasteful to the British people. I am glad to say that my intervention was effectual, in that Huang Chin, instead of being executed, was banished.

His Excellency Liu-Kwen-Yi having most courteously placed H.I.M.S. Nanshin at my disposal, I took passage in her to Nanking.

I was much interested in the arrangement and armament of the Chinese man-of-war; but as she was warmed by means of charcoal stoves, my investigations were conducted in a condition of partial suffocation from the fumes.

Upon arriving at Nanking in the Nanshin, I received a salute of fifteen guns; and proceeded to the Yamen of his {450} Excellency the Viceroy Liu-Kwen-Yi between the lines of troops and banner-bearers, numbering some thousands, who were ranged along the whole route of four and a half miles in my honour. Liu-Kwen-Yi, who received me with the greatest courtesy and kindness, said that he was anxious to show his friendship for Great Britain in every way. In the course of two long and interesting conversations with the Viceroy, who expressed his fear of the present unstable posture of affairs, I suggested that there were two contingencies to fear: a rebellion against the Government and an insurrection against foreigners; either of which would be fatal to commercial security. His Excellency, however, assured me that there was no danger of disturbances inspired by dislike of the foreigner. Herein he was mistaken; for within two years occurred the Boxer outbreak, which had the approval, secret or overt, of the Empress Dowager. At the Viceroy's request, I drew up a memorandum containing my scheme for the reorganisation of the army on the principle of the Imperial Maritime Customs, which I had proposed at Pekin. A translation of this document was sent by the Viceroy to Pekin.

On my return journey, I inspected the army, the fleet, the arsenal and the Imperial naval college.

I arrived at Hong Kong for the second time on Christmas Day, 1898. The views of the China Association and of the British merchants here were of the same tenor as those, already described, expressed by the British communities at all the trading centres visited by me.

To complete my itinerary in brief, other places visited by me were Wuhu, Kinkiang, Chinkiang, Kiangzin, Hankow, Foochow, Swatow, Amoy, Canton, and Wuchow. At each place I drew up a report describing the local conditions and embodying the representations of the British communities.

Their common complaint was that British trade was declining. But an examination of the detailed reports which in response to the letters sent by me beforehand, were ready for my inspection, showed that on the contrary the branches {451} of trade already possessed by the British had increased; and that it was in new branches started by foreign nations that the British were not succeeding. Their comparative failure in this respect I held to be partly due to the fact that foreign nations supplied what the people wanted, while the British insisted on trying to sell to them what the British thought they ought to want.


The following reports were framed by me: report on the railways and waterways; report upon the British Consulate; a general comprehensive report upon Trade, Treaties and Tariffs; and a highly elaborate report upon the complicated question of Finance and Currency. All these are set forth in my book, The Break-up of China, which also includes a summary of the reforms which appeared to me to be most requisite. These were:—

1. An Imperial coinage.

2. Reform in the method of collecting the land-tax.

3. Removal of restrictions on the export of grain.

4. Modification of the laws governing the salt monopoly.

5. The right of foreigners to reside in the interior for purposes of trade.

6. The registration and protection of trade marks and copyright.

7. The removal of the remaining restrictions on inland water navigation.

8. The abolition of the likin, or a change of administration which would ensure that likin should be collected once only.

9. Greater facilities to be given to respectable foreign syndicates to work minerals.

10. The establishment of reformed departments for the regulation of finance, railways, waterways, roads, posts and telegraphs, and a bureau to deal with all questions connected with trade. The existing {452} telegraph service was so bad, that a letter sent from Tientsin to Shanghai has been known to arrive before a telegram sent at the same time. The Times correspondent at Pekin told me that his telegrams very often cost as much to send from Pekin to Shanghai as from Shanghai to London.

11. One other bureau was urgently needed, a Trade Intelligence Department, to deal with scientific and practical questions relating to the natural products available in China for commercial purposes. What is an insignificant export to-day may become a valuable article of commerce to-morrow. There should be a scientific classification of the products of China on the same lines as the classification of products in India.

I may here quote what, in relation to the whole matter, I wrote at the time:

"If it be said that my policy for the reorganisation of the Chinese army and police is a warlike policy, I reply that it is the only plan yet suggested which gives any guarantee of peace. Great Britain's strongest guarantee of peace has been the reorganisation of her Fleet. Without peace commerce must perish. To keep the peace, authority must be properly equipped. Our choice with regard to the Chinese Empire is simple: we may choose to wreck or we may choose to restore."

The resolutions passed by the British mercantile communities and the many letters I received from them subsequently, testify to their approval of my recommendations. The following documents express the sentiments of the Chinese themselves, and of the foreign merchants:

"At a meeting of Chinese merchants and traders, and other Chinese gentlemen resident in Hong Kong, held at the Chinese Chamber of Commerce on 22nd January, 1899, on {453} the motion of Mr. Ho Tung, seconded by Mr. Leung Shiu Kwong, it was resolved:

"'1. Having closely followed with great and attentive interest, and carefully considered what Lord Charles Beresford has said and done in China in connection with his recent mission on behalf of the Associated Chambers of Commerce, we, the Chinese community of Hong Kong here assembled, are in accord with and heartily support the policy the noble lord proposes in regard to the "Open Door" as regards commerce, and also with regard to the reorganisation of the Chinese army.

"'2. That we recognise the combined proposals, if carried out, will benefit China quite as much as, if not more, than England, and other nations, in her trading interest, and we therefore hope that Lord Charles will be intrusted by the British Government with the carrying out of the views he has so closely enunciated, as we, the Chinese people of Hong Kong, observe that his efforts are directed to the benefit of both his country and our country, and to the benefit of the trade of China and the trade of England.

"'3. That we recognise and make our cordial acknowledgments for the sympathetic manner with which he has approached our country; and

"'4. That we desire emphatically to express our full confidence in Lord Charles Beresford, whose ability, integrity and zeal we are sure peculiarly fit him successfully to carry out the proposals he has made for the furtherance of trade and the preservation of the Chinese Empire.'

"(Signed) Lo CHI TIU, Chairman
                H. O. FOOK, Secretary"

The General Foreign Commercial Community of Shanghai, on 8th January, 1899, passed the following resolution:

"That our cordial thanks be tendered to Lord Charles Beresford for the service he has rendered to the foreign communities in China by personal investigation into the conditions of the various interests we represent."


Upon my return, I represented what I believed to be the real posture of affairs in China, when the subject was discussed in the House of Commons. In November, 1899, I read a paper upon "Engineering in China" before the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.




Having received invitations to visit Japan from the Chambers of Commerce and from prominent persons interested in the China trade, I stayed for a short time in that country on my way home. Thirty years previously, accompanying H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh in the Galatea, I had seen the Old Japan. I was now to see, super-imposed upon the Old, the New Japan. That which China was groping after, Japan had seized and made her own. What we call Western civilisation: the civilisation of commerce, of science, of mechanical invention: Japan had put on like a garment.

Both the army and the navy, whose supreme commander is the Emperor, were organised, efficient, and in process of augmentation. China feared Russia; but Japan was even then preparing to fight Russia.

As in arms, so in manufactures, Japan already rivalled the West. The foreigner, who, a generation previously, walked in peril of his life, was now welcomed, imitated, and loaded with civilities.

During my brief sojourn, the swift and shining manifestations of the new spirit (which was the old spirit seeking a new avatar) surrounded me. At Osaka, quick-firing field artillery and magazine rifles were being made to Japanese patents, excellent in design and construction; and the humming factories were turning out sugar, cotton, matches, {456} iron and steel; and, at a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce, the Mayor declared that it was imperative in the interests of Japanese trade that the policy of the "Open Door" should prevail in China. The Chamber of Commerce said the same at Kioto. A generation since, the two-sworded samurai were guarding the door of Japan, lest it should be opened.

At Kioto, electricity, generated by water power, lighted the streets and houses, worked the trams, pumped the water; the use of electric power was then more common, I believe in Japan than in any other country; and there were telegraphs and telephones in nearly every town.

In Tokio, I had the honour of meeting several members of the Ministry, who, stating that they regarded the "Spheres of Influence" policy to be fatal to Japanese interests, expressed their desire to work together with other nations in favour of the policy of the "Open Door." Having been invited by the Chamber of Commerce to address a public meeting, I spoke on the subject of the future development of trade with China. The meeting was attended by Ministers, military and naval officers, the President and many members of both Houses, and representatives of the mercantile community. The Japanese interpreter sat beside me and equipped with inkpot, paper and brush, he painted down my words in the Japanese character. When I sat down, the interpreter rose and repeated my speech in Japanese, his delivery occupying the same time as mine. Every now and then he was interrupted by applause, the audience tapping with their fans. The British Minister told me that it was aroused by the mention of the identity of Japanese and British interests, and especially by the comparison drawn between Japan and Great Britain.

The authorities kindly conducted me over the various schools of military training, in which the system was perfect; the arsenal, employing 6000 men, and turning out work second to none; and the barracks, a model of efficiency. The Minister for War, General Viscount Katsura, courteously {457} held a parade of troops for my benefit. All arms were admirable alike in organisation, appearance, and discipline.

Before leaving Tokio, I had the opportunity of paying my respects to his Majesty the Emperor; who was so good as to say he remembered the visit of the Duke of Edinburgh of whose suite I had been a member, and invited me to an afternoon's sport in his private pleasaunce. Every foot of the garden was wrought like a gem. Diversified with miniature mountains, tiny grottoes, and brilliant foliage, it was intersected by narrow rivers which were haunted by wild duck. Two or three days before the sport took place, the garden was left solitary, so that the ducks should come into it. The method was to catch the duck in a hand-net as it rose from the water.

His Majesty said that the development of trade with China must strengthen the friendship between the peoples of Great Britain and Japan, the interests of both countries being the same; and expressed the hope that the endeavours of the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Great Britain might be the beginning of a great extension of trade, in which Japan would take a prominent part.

At Yokohama, Admiral Yamamoto, Minister of Marine, courteously invited me to visit the dockyard and fleet at Yokohama, placing H.I.M. cruiser Takasago at my disposal. The vessel was throughout in as good condition as a man-of-war could be; and her ship's company were smart, well dressed and well disciplined.

At Yokosha is a large torpedo depot, at which everything connected with torpedo warfare is organised under its own administration; a system preferable to the British method, in which the torpedo departments are auxiliary to the dockyards.

The impression disengaged by my sojourn of a fortnight in Japan was that both the political and commercial classes were determined to enforce the "Open Door" in China, where their commercial interests were extensive. I observed that the nation was arming itself steadily and effectively; and that a spirit of patriotism was universal. Four years later, the Russo-Japanese war broke out.




The many invitations sent to me while I was in China from the United States determined me to visit that country on the way home; in order to explain to the American nation the situation in China; to encourage if it might be, the growth of amity between the English and the American peoples; and incidentally to mark the contrast between the most ancient and static Empire of the East and the restless dynamic forces of the latest experiment in Western civilisation. I had arrived at Nagasaki on the 11th January, 1899; traversed Japan as a half-way house, in which West and East had married, and in which their offspring were presently to astonish the world; and came to San Francisco on the 10th of February.

Immediately the wheels of life began to revolve with an extraordinary velocity. I was caught up in the sumptuous hospitality of that generous people—deluged with invitations; and haunted by interviewers. In looking back, great cities rise one upon another, like cities in a dream; I seem always to be speaking to a field of keen, upturned countenances; the only respite comes in the days and nights, all run into one to the long roll of the cars, as the train eats up the miles of that land of vast spaces; and everywhere there are welcome and cordiality and friendship.

And everywhere there were Irishmen, rushing to shake hands with a countryman; rushing any distance, often {459} hundreds of miles, just to exchange greetings at the latter end. Irishmen are so, the world over.

One among my countrymen had travelled a thousand miles to see me, when he called at my hotel. I told him that I had twenty minutes before starting for Chicago, and that I must retire to my room to bathe, shave and prepare a speech in that time.

"I'll come wid ye," said he, cheerfully; and while I made my dispositions, he sat in the adjoining room and talked of the old country with that pride and affection which all Irishmen feel for their native land.

San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, Buffalo, Washington, New York: these were the great towns strung among the lesser. At San Francisco, I addressed the Chamber of Commerce. At Chicago, I was entertained by Mr. McCormick, President of the Associated Chambers and of the Committee of the Commercial Club.

All unknown to me, it had been arranged that I should address a large meeting at eleven o'clock on the morning of my arrival. When the train came in at ten o'clock, I was informed of the arrangement; went to the hotel, dictated notes to my secretary while I made my toilette, arrived at the meeting punctually, and spoke for half an hour.

Here, and throughout America, I kept strictly to my terms of reference: dwelling upon the opportunities for extending trade in China; the necessity for pursuing the policy of the "Open Door"; and the community of interest existing between America and Great Britain.

The Board of Trade, which is the Stock Exchange of Chicago, invited me to visit them; and when I was introduced as the representative of the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Great Britain, the whole business of the great market was stopped in order that I might address the members; an event which, I was informed, was without precedent. The Commercial Club having kindly invited me to be the guest of their periodical banquet, the Committee most courteously altered the date in order to suit my {460} convenience. In this case, there was a precedent; for the date of the occasion had been altered when General Grant had been a guest of the Club.

At Washington, I was most hospitably entertained by Mr. Hay, Secretary of State and late Ambassador in Great Britain. I had the privilege of paying my respects to President McKinley, and of meeting many distinguished Americans, Senators and others, all of whom expressed great interest in the enterprise of the British Associated Chambers of Commerce. At this time I first met Colonel Robert M. Thompson, who became a great friend of mine; and Admiral Brownson, whose skill in handling a fleet I subsequently admired.

Upon my arrival at New York, I fulfilled an engagement to address the American Asiatic Association. Mr. Whitelaw Reid, afterwards Ambassador in Great Britain, in an eloquent speech, declared that the policy of the "Open Door" was that which was best suited for the development of American trade, and that the American Government intended to institute it in the Philippine Islands.

Addressing the New York Chamber of Commerce, I found the members to express the same sympathy and interest with which my representations had been received throughout the United States. The American attitude was, in fact, that while they were desirous of strengthening their friendship with England, and approved the policy of the "Open Door," they did not feel justified in going beyond a moral support of it.

Upon visiting New York a second time, I was introduced into the Stock Exchange by Mr. Rudolph Kepler, the President, who took me up the floor to the rostrum. The proceedings were stopped; and at the President's request, I addressed the members for two or three minutes. Some one said that my speech was at the rate of 100,000 dollars a second. I hope he was exaggerating.



When the men who had gone out to South Africa to take part in the Jameson Raid were passing through the Suez Canal on their way back again, I saw and heard the people in the British ships cheering them as they went by; a popular effusion which (in my view) boded trouble in the future. Soon after my return from the United States in 1899, an instalment of the trouble arrived. The burghers of the Transvaal and of the Orange Free State crossed the British frontiers on the 12th October.

This country began as usual by underrating the strength of the enemy. Many of us remember the talk about rolling them up, and all the rest of it; all very bright in its way; but not the way to begin a war, much less to end it. Those of us who understood war, were by no means so confident; and I expressed their opinion, when, as I may perhaps here venture to recall, speaking at the Cutlers' Feast at Sheffield on the 2nd November, and again at Sunderland on the 6th November, 1899, I most emphatically advocated the dispatch of a much larger force than the Government had allocated for the purpose; on the principle that "in the fire brigade, if an officer thought a fire needed four engines to put it out, he would send eight."

Matters have changed so little since the South African war that, although our Army and Navy are relatively inferior to what they were in 1899, the politicians are still alternately boasting of what will be done in an emergency, and declaring that war is no longer possible.


In December, 1899, I was appointed second in command of the Mediterranean Fleet under the command of Vice-Admiral Sir J. A. Fisher, K.C.B. (now Admiral of the Fleet Lord Fisher of Kilverstone, G.C.B., O.M., G.C.V.O.), flying his flag in H.M.S. Renown, and thereupon resigned my seat at York. The London Chamber of Commerce were so good as to invite me to a banquet prior to my departure. Speaking upon that occasion, I pointed out that under our existing system of administration, while the Cabinet must always bear the ultimate responsibility, there was not yet in existence a department whose duty it was to represent what were the requirements, present and future, of Imperial defence. So far as the Navy was concerned, the duty was charged upon the First Sea Lord; but it involved a task so vast and complex, that no one man could possibly fulfil it; nor had the Intelligence Department been developed, according to its original purpose, into a War Staff.

In the event of a disaster in war, resulting from lack of organisation and preparation, the Government, being rightly held responsible, are perhaps turned out of office; when the nation may derive what consolation may accrue from losing both its Government and the Empire upon the same day.

My first command as rear-admiral coincided with the final disappearance from the Navy of the old masts and sails training which was the delight and pride of the sailors of my generation. Before the decision of the Admiralty had been finally made, I suggested (in The Times, 9th December, 1899) that, as there were then only four training ships, so that no more than a proportion of boys could be passed through them, either the system should be abolished, or two squadrons of six ships should be provided, and all boys trained in them. The Admiralty, however, considered that it would be inadvisable to send away so many young seamen; and they were right.

I hoisted my flag in H.M.S. Ramillies on 12th January 1900. She was a first-class battleship of the Royal Sovereign {463} class, of 14,150 tons. At that time she was six or seven years old; at the time of writing, although she is no more than twenty, she has been sold for old iron; and when they took her away to break her up, she got adrift in a seaway off the Isle of Wight.

I saw the last of my old flagship as I was passing through the gut of Gibraltar, on board the R.M.S. Orvieto, on 25th November, 1913. She was being towed by a small tug to her last home, the yard of an Italian ship-knacker. I thought of the old happy days on board her, and all the sport, when she held the record in the Fleet for most of the drills and all the boat-racing.

The flag-captain was Robert S. Lowry (now Vice-Admiral Sir R. S. Lowry, K.C.B.), who had been with me in the Undaunted as commander. The commander was the Hon. Horace L. A. Hood (now Rear-Admiral Hood, C.B., M.V.O., D.S.O.). The flag-lieutenant was Maurice J. G. Cay, and the secretary, Paymaster John A. Keys (now Fleet Paymaster J. A. Keys), who was with me afterwards in my flagships.

At that time, apart from being charged with the duty of carrying into execution the orders of the commander-in-chief, an officer second in command had no individual responsibility. In other words, he had little opportunity of acquiring from his superior officer that knowledge which, in the event of war, he would require in an emergency.

Upon the adequacy of the Mediterranean Fleet depends the safety of the Empire in time of war; but although war was then waging in South Africa, although the other European Powers regarded Great Britain with open or covert hostility, and although a combination of France and Russia against this country was by no means improbable, the Mediterranean Fleet was barely sufficient to meet the French Fleet alone with any reasonable certainty of success. In other words, so far as numbers and composition were concerned, the Mediterranean Fleet was incapable of carrying into execution the duties with which it must be charged in {464} the event of war. Under the command of Sir John Fisher, its efficiency was admirable.

The bare statement of the requirements sufficiently indicates their necessity. An increase of the supply of reserve coal, then dangerously deficient; the provision of fleet colliers, fully equipped, of distilling ships, of telegraph ships, and of hospital ships, of which until quite recently there was only one in the Navy, and that one a present from the United States; of store ships, reserve ammunition ships and parent ships for torpedo craft: thirty-four vessels in all, representing those auxiliaries without which no Fleet is adequately fitted to fulfil its duties in war. These deficiencies fall to be recorded, because, although some of them have since been supplied, it is still the habit of the authorities to neglect the provision of fleet auxiliaries, and the public are taught to believe that a squadron of battleships is self-sufficient.

The construction of submarines, which had long been the subject of experiment in France, having been begun by the United States, induced me to write to Lord Goschen, First Lord, observing that whether or not the new arm might prove valuable in war, at least it ought to be tested, and suggesting that two experimental boats should be ordered. The Admiralty shortly afterwards purchased five submarines of the Holland Torpedo Boat Company, U.S.A., of a similar design to the six Hollands of the Adder class ordered by the United States in June, 1900. The Hollands were followed by the construction in this country of the "A" class; and as everyone knows, the type was rapidly developed until Great Britain now possesses a large fleet of these vessels.

Having investigated when I was in the Undaunted the French system of nucleus crews, under which the older men and pensioners were employed to form skeleton crews for the ships in Reserve, upon the understanding that they were not to go to sea in full commission except in the event of war, I sent home a report upon the subject, indicating the advantage enjoyed by the French naval seaman, who, under {465} the nucleus crew system, could look forward with certainty to spending the end of his career comfortably in a home port, and suggesting that a modification of the system might be introduced into our own Service. Under the British system, the ships in the Steam Reserve were then kept in order by working parties composed of men temporarily under training in the depots attached to the dockyards, an arrangement which had the disadvantage that the men who formed the crews in the event of war, would not be the men who were familiar with the ships.

Some years later, the Admiralty introduced the nucleus crew system, which differed entirely from the principle upon which was based the French method, in that a proportion of active service ratings were placed on board the ships of the Reserve, and that these crews were being constantly shifted from ship to ship. After a series of experiments, it was officially decided to man a number of ships in active commission with nucleus crews, which are officially stated to be as efficient as full crews; a state of things which is as dangerous to the national security as it is unfair to officers and men.

The accident occurring on board the French man-of-war Admiral Duperré, leading to the conclusion that if cordite were exposed to heat above a certain temperature its ignition would cause an enormously increased pressure upon the gun, induced me officially to represent the necessity of keeping ammunition at an even temperature. Several years afterwards, a large quantity of cordite distributed among the Fleet was found to be in so dangerous a condition that it was destroyed, and the ammunition chambers were equipped with cooling apparatus.

My interest in signalling inspired me to invent a new drill for the signalmen, in which the men themselves represented ships. Linked together with a tack-line, in order to keep them in station, the men executed the evolutions of a fleet in obedience to signals. I also advocated that all captains and commanders should pass the signal school as {466} a qualification for flag-command. Every admiral ought to be familiar with manoeuvre signals at least; for in default of that knowledge, he does not know that a wrong signal has been hoisted in his flagship until he sees the ships making a wrong manoeuvre. An admiral who understands signals will seldom, if ever, be observed hoisting a negative.

It was in the year 1900 that H.M.S. Terrible, commanded by Captain Percy M. Scott (now Admiral Sir P. M. Scott, K.C.B., K.C.V.O.) on the China station, distinguished herself by making a gunnery record of a percentage of 76.92 hits, as compared with the mean percentage of all ships in commission, of which the highest was 46.91 (10-inch gun), and the lowest was 28.2 (16.25 inch and 13.5 inch). Comparing the Renown, flagship of the Mediterranean, with the Terrible, both really smart ships, it was clear that there must be something radically wrong with our gunnery training, when the Terrible made more than twice the number of hits with her 6-inch guns in the same number of rounds.

I wrote home, suggesting that, as Captain Percy Scott had solved the difficulties with which we were all struggling it would be advisable to send him to the various Fleets and Squadrons to teach us the right methods. I also wrote to Captain Percy Scott, expressing my interest in his achievement, and received from him a courteous reply, enclosing much useful information: which enabled me to represent to the commander-in-chief that consideration should be given to the new arrangements for shooting instituted on the China station, owing to the inventions and the industry of Captain Percy Scott. It was also urged that a gunnery training ship should be attached to each Fleet.

Among the excellent practices introduced by the commander-in-chief, was the writing of essays by officers upon a given subject—the interchange of ideas being of much educational value; and perhaps of hardly less utility, was the exercise in composition. Many naval officers evince marked literary ability; but there is always a proportion who find accurate expression a difficulty. Few, however, so {467} dismally succumb to it as the author of the following signal, made in response to a request from an admiral for the explanation of a mistake in manoeuvring. The reply was:

"When signal A2 pendant was made —— reduced to 30 revolutions and as she gradually dropped astern to get astern of —— observed her bearing she suddenly seemed to stop and turn towards us and we stopped and went astern on seeing flagship passing ahead of —— altogether we had turned 6 points by that time. My object was to get under her stern by dropping and watching her thinking that she was dropping gradually to get astern."

At this time, the Board of Admiralty effected many improvements. The coal supply for the Mediterranean was increased, the Mediterranean Fleet was strengthened, and provided with colliers and with a hospital ship; better ships were allocated for gunnery training at the home ports; the old coastguard ships were replaced with modern vessels; submarines were added to the Fleet; the signalling was improved; the regulations for training gunnery and torpedo ratings were revised; obsolete ships were removed from the effective list; a naval tactical school was established; and combined manoeuvres of the Channel and Mediterranean Fleets were instituted.

While Vice-Admiral Sir John Fisher was commander-in-chief of the Mediterranean Fleet, he greatly improved its fighting efficiency. As the result of his representations, the stocks of coal at Malta and Gibraltar were increased, the torpedo flotillas were strengthened, and the new breakwaters at Malta were begun. Some of Sir John Fisher's reforms are confidential; but among his achievements which became common knowledge, the following are notable: From a 12-knot Fleet with breakdowns, he made a 15-knot Fleet without breakdowns; introduced long range target practice, and instituted the Challenge Cup for heavy gun shooting; instituted various war practices for officers and men; invited, with excellent results, officers to formulate their opinions upon cruising and battle formation; drew up complete {468} instructions for torpedo flotillas; exercised cruisers in towing destroyers and battleships in towing one another, thereby proving the utility of the device for saving coal in an emergency; and generally carried into execution Fleet exercises based, not on tradition but, on the probabilities of war.

The Ramillies competing in rifle-shooting, hockey, pistol shooting and the squadron athletic sports, took the Mediterranean Jewel and £1; was first in the sweepstakes; tied first for the Pembroke Plate; won the tug-of-war twice, and the greasy pig race twice; altogether, the ship took six firsts, nine seconds, and five thirds, out of 19 events.

In the early days of motor-cars, a motor-car race between Captain George Neville and myself was arranged, the course being from the bottom to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar. My car broke down, and Neville won the race. Another breakdown in the same car occurred 20 miles distant from Vigo. That night I was giving a dinner in Vigo to the Municipality and all the notabilities. I had not recovered from a bad fall I had had with the Pytchley a few weeks previously, when I broke my pelvis. I was riding a first-class hireling hunter; a bullfinch had been cut, and the hedging was in the field towards us; my horse took off at the end of the hedging in the field, and (as they say in Ireland) threw a magnificent lep, but failed to clear the top of the wattles, and came over on top of me.

So, when the car broke down, I could not walk. There was no help near. The two friends who accompanied me, Hedworth Lambton and Hwfa Williams, volunteered to get assistance. Finding none, they had to walk twenty-one miles into Vigo. Hwfa Williams was wearing pumps. For several days previously, distrusting the car, he had equipped himself with stout boots in case of accident; now, of course, he had left them in the ship. When he had first arrived on board, he had declared that he was so ill that he could not be long for this world; but the walk into Vigo cheered him up wonderfully.


I was eventually towed in the car into Vigo, arriving about two o'clock in the morning. In the meantime, the Staff had entertained my guests.

When I had been some six months in the Mediterranean, I was approached as to whether I would accept the command of the Australian squadron. Considering that the appointment would not afford the opportunities I desired of learning how to handle a fleet, I intimated my preference for remaining in the Mediterranean; where I remained for my full time accordingly.

On 5th February, 1902, a few days before I completed my fifty-sixth year, I hauled down my flag; and, in pursuance of a stately old custom often practised on such an occasion, I was rowed ashore by twelve officers in the cutter. Landing at Naples, I went home, arriving in London just in time to attend the debate upon the Navy Estimates in the House of Commons.

In the following June, Admiral Sir John Fisher succeeded Vice-Admiral Sir A. L. Douglas upon the Board of Admiralty as Second Sea Lord.



Having adopted the practice of asking the officers in the Fleet under my command to write essays upon subjects connected with the Service, I once received a disquisition in which the author (a midshipman) dwelt sorrowfully upon the unaccountable indifference manifested by senior officers towards the opinions of midshipmen, who, said the writer, having young and vigorous minds, were naturally better fitted to grapple with problems which baffled the older and slower intellect.

This particular young gentleman must I think have applied his vigorous mind to the problem of how to obtain a generous allowance of leave. I trust I did him no injustice; but whenever the Fleet lay off the coasts of Scotland, he was afflicted with a grievous toothache, requiring an immediate visit to the dentist. When he had gone ashore to have a tooth out in every port in Scotland, I sent for him.

"Tell me," I said, "how many teeth you have left? For I make out that you have had forty-six teeth extracted in Scotland alone."

Many a delightful day have I had with the midshipmen of the ships and fleets in which I have served. We fished together, rode, shot, hunted and raced together. Memory does not always supply episodes in their chronological order; and I set these down as they occur to me.

When I was lieutenant in the Bellerophon, stationed at Bermuda, I used to take the midshipmen out fishing. In {471} those seas, the water is so clear that one can watch the fish taking the bait. Once, deep down, I saw the head of a conger eel protruding from the cleft of the rocks in which he lay. I dropped the bait in front of his nose, and watched his head move back and forth, until he took the bait. Then I shifted the midshipmen to the farther side of the boat to counterweigh the strain and to get a purchase on the line, and hauled out the great eel, piece by piece, and we dragged him into the boat.

About that time, the midshipmen saved me from a highly disagreeable death. We were out fishing in my boat, and one of the midshipmen threw my housewife for snooded hooks at another, and missing him, it went overboard. Now my fishing housewife was a most valuable possession; I had made it myself; and when I saw it sinking slowly down through the clear water, I dived for it and caught it. By the time I rose to the surface, the boat had drifted away from me. Hailing the crew, I swam after the boat; and as I reached her, I was suddenly hoisted bodily inboard by the slack of my breeches. Almost at the same moment, the fin of a shark shot up beside the gunwale. The midshipmen, my saviours, observed that "it was a sell for the shark."

We sailed one day to North Rock, which lies about twenty-two miles from Bermuda, and there we fished. Towards evening, it came on to blow. The ship was invisible from North Rock, and it was impossible to return. We tried to secure the boat to the rocks, but failed. There was nothing to be done but to lay to and bale. As the dark fell, I found we had no light. By this time the midshipmen were utterly exhausted, and were lying helpless. I made a lantern out of the mustard-pot, using oil from a sardine tin, and fabricating a wick from a cotton fishing line, and slung it on the beam. It burned all night. And all night, one of the worst nights in my recollection, we tacked to and fro close-reefed. At dawn, we started on the return trip; and, so whimsical a thing is destiny, no sooner had we {472} sighted the Fleet, than a puff of wind carried away the mast which had stood so stoutly all the night of storm.

My boat was what was called a "Mugian" boat, built in Bermuda. Her crew consisted of one man. His name was Esau, and he was a liberated slave of an incomparable obstinacy, a fault of which I cured him in one moment. When we took the boat for her first trip, I was persuaded that I could steer her among the reefs as well as Esau. But Esau was of another opinion. When argument failed, he tried to wrest the tiller from me, whereupon, unshipping it, I brought it down on Esau's head. I was a powerful youth, and I struck hard; yet it was not the head of Esau which was broken, but the tiller, though it was of oak. In trying to steer with a short piece of the tiller, we were nearly wrecked; but Esau ventured no further remonstrance, neither then nor afterwards.

There is a right way and there is a wrong way of dealing with midshipmen; and a little imagination may reveal the right way. When I was in command of the Undaunted, stationed at Malta, I noticed that the midshipmen, returning on board after taking violent exercise on shore, were often overheated, with the result that they caught a chill, and the chill brought on Malta fever, the curse of that island in those days. I issued an order that overcoats were to be taken ashore and worn while coming off to the ship; and I caused a room in the Custom House to be fitted with pegs, upon which the coats might be left until they were required.

The next thing was that a boy who came on board without his overcoat, had his leave stopped by the commander. There was a boxing match on shore, which I wished all the midshipmen to see. I intended that he should see the match; and it was also necessary that, without severity on the one hand or indulgence on the other, the occasion should be stamped upon his memory. So when the rest of the midshipmen had gone, I sent for the solitary youth, and bade him explain his case. When he had finished, I told {473} him that I intended to inflict upon him an additional punishment. He regarded me with a face of alarm.

"You will go ashore," I said, "and you will write for me a full and an exact account of the boxing match."

He saw the match; and after the pains of literary composition, he would not so easily forget his overcoat.

In the Undaunted, the midshipmen were taught to make their own canvas jumpers and trousers.

I used to keep two or three extra guns for the use of the midshipmen, whom I took out shooting whenever an opportunity occurred. Some of the boys had never handled a gun before. A midshipman once shot a hare when the animal was right at my feet.

"Wasn't that a good shot, sir!" said he joyously.

It did not occur to his innocence that he might have brought me down instead of the hare.

On Saturdays, I took out shooting the torpedo classes of midshipmen, which were conducted by my old friend, Captain Durnford (now Admiral Sir John Durnford, K.C.B., D.S.O.). We advanced in very open order, placing the midshipmen some 200 yards apart from one another, for fear of accidents, and we fired at everything that came along, in every direction. Upon one such occasion, I took out the warrant officers, among whom was the carpenter, who had never shot anything in his life. We were after snipe—I think at Platea—a bird whose flight, as all sportsmen know, is peculiar. A snipe in mid-flight will dive suddenly, dropping to earth out of sight. The old carpenter raised his gun very slowly, and aimed with immense deliberation, the muzzle of his gun cautiously tracing the flight of the bird, thus expending cartridge after cartridge. Suddenly his bird dropped. He shouted with delight and, holding his gun high over his head, ran as hard as he could pelt towards the spot upon which, as he believed, the bird had fallen dead. We saw it rise behind him; but nothing would persuade him that he had not slain his quarry. He searched and searched, in vain. Going back in the boat, I noticed that {474} he was sunk in a profound melancholy, and bade him cheer up.

"It do seem 'ard, sir," he said sadly, "that the only bird I ever shot in my life, I shouldn't be able to find it." And sad he remained.

After one of these excursions, a midshipman brought to me the gun I had lent to him, with the barrels bent.

"I am very sorry, sir," he said. "The fact is, I slipped on the rocks, and fell with the barrels under me. But," he added eagerly, "it shoots just as well as it did before, sir."

I turned to another midshipman who had been of the party.

"Did you see him shoot before the accident?"

"Yes, sir."

"Did he hit anything?"

"No, sir."

"Did you see him shoot after the accident?"

"Yes, sir."

"Did he hit anything?"

"No, sir."

"Then," I said to the first midshipman, "your statement is correct. Will you please take the gun to the armourer to be repaired?"

I landed at Gibraltar very early in the morning, about four o'clock, with the intention of cub-hunting. At the stables I found a midshipman, dressed in plain clothes, whom I did not know. I asked him what he was doing. He said that he wanted to go cub-hunting, but that he hadn't a horse. I gave him a mount and told him to stick to me. He did as he was told, literally. He was in my pocket all day; he jumped upon the top of me; I couldn't get rid of him. When I remonstrated, he said:

"You told me to stick to you, sir. And I say, sir, isn't it fun!"

He reminds me of the first time Fred Archer, the famous jockey, went out hunting. He stuck as close {475} behind his host as my midshipman did to me; but his reply to all remonstrance was:

"What are you grumbling at? I'm giving you half a length!"

Part of my scheme of training midshipmen in the Mediterranean was to send them away, under the charge of a lieutenant, for two days at a time, to fend for themselves upon one of the islands. I sent them away in the pinnace, and they took guns and provided their own food, and enjoyed themselves to the full.

At Alexandria, the midshipmen of a United States warship challenged the midshipmen in the Fleet to a pulling race. At that time I had a private galley, the Hippocampe, which had never been beaten; while the Americans had a boat of special construction, much lighter than our Service boats. As the Hippocampe was not a regulation Service boat, I asked the American captain whether he had any objection to her. He said he had none. I trained a crew selected from the midshipmen of the Fleet. The American midshipmen were of course older and heavier than our boys, as they enter the Navy at a later age. At one point in the race they were ten lengths ahead; but at the end they were astern.

While I was in command of the Undaunted, two of the midshipmen of the Fleet performed the feat of climbing the Great Pyramid on the wrong side, where the stone is rotten. It was a most perilous proceeding; and as I was responsible for the party, when the boys, having nearly reached the top, crawled round to the safe side, I was greatly relieved, and so was the Sheikh, who was imploring me on his knees to stop them. The fact was that the midshipmen had refused to take the Arab guides, and had started before I knew what was happening.

I used to take the midshipmen out for paperchases at Malta. The flag-lieutenant and myself, being mounted, were the hares. Crowds used to watch us, and we finished up with a big tea. Races on horseback for the midshipmen {476} were held at St. Paul's Bay, myself being the winning-post, at which they arrived hot and panting. There were only two accidents on record, a broken arm and a broken leg.

We ascended Vesuvius together, taking a heliograph, with which we signalled to the flagship, lying below in the Bay of Naples. Upon the very day the last great eruption began, we looked down the crater and saw the lava heaving and bubbling like boiling coffee in a glass receiver, and smoke bursting from it. The guides hurried us away and down; and no sooner had we arrived at the station, than there sounded the first explosion, which blew up the spot upon which we had been standing.

Seldom have I been more anxious than upon the day I stood on the roof of the Palace at Malta, and watched a crew of midshipmen struggling to make the harbour in a whole gale of wind. I had sent them in the launch to Gozo, and they had taken my bull-dog with them to give him some exercise. While they were on shore, the gale blew up; and rather than break their leave, the boys set sail. To my intense relief, I saw them make the harbour; and then as they hauled the sheet aft to round-to, over went the boat, and they were all swimming about in the harbour; but happily they all came safely to land, including my bull-dog.

There was once a midshipman (an Irishman) who, perceiving treacle exposed for sale upon the cart of an itinerant vender of miscellaneous commodities, was suddenly inspired (I do not know why) with a desire to buy that condiment.

"What should the like of you be wanting with treacle?" said the man, who was a surly fellow.

"Why shouldn't I buy treacle?" said the boy.

"How much do you want?"

"As much as you've got."

"I've got nothing to put it in," grumbled the man.

"Put it in my hat," insisted the midshipman, proffering that receptacle. It was a tall hat, for he was in mufti.


The vender of treacle reluctantly filled the hat with treacle.

"What are you going to do with it?" he asked again.

"I'll show you," returned the midshipman; and he swiftly clapped the hat over the other's head, and jammed it down.



Shortly after the expiration of my appointment as second in command in the Mediterranean, I was back again in the House of Commons, this time as member for Woolwich, having been returned unopposed. Many improvements in the Navy had been accomplished under Lord Salisbury's administration; but the central defect in the system remained; and the name of it was the want of a War Staff. There was no one in existence whose duty it was to discover and to represent what were the present and the future requirements of Imperial defence. The purpose with which the Intelligence Department had been constituted at the Admiralty, that it should be developed into a War Staff, had not been fulfilled. The First Sea Lord was indeed charged with the duties of organisation for war and the preparation of plans of campaign; but no one man could by any possibility accomplish so vast and so complex a task. How, then, was it done? The answer is that it was not done. The extraordinary achievement of the late Sir Frederick Richards may of course be cited to exemplify what one man can do; but Sir Frederick was the man of a century, alike in knowledge, ability and character; and that he was enabled, as First Sea Lord, temporarily to conquer the difficulties inherent in the system, merely proves that the system was so bad that a man of genius was required to overcome its defects, and (in a word) to achieve his purpose in spite of it. The supply of such men is extremely {479} limited. When such an one appears, which (with luck) is once or twice in a generation, the system may be disregarded, for he will make his own system.

But the need of a War Staff is sufficiently proved by the fact that, ever since it was established in 1912, its members have been working day and night. Two flag officers, four captains, five commanders, one lieutenant; three majors, Royal Marines, six captains, Royal Marines; one engineer-commander, three paymasters, and a staff of clerks: 25 officers and 19 civilians; now (1913) constitute the three divisions of the Admiralty War Staff; more than double the number composing the Intelligence Department when in 1912 it became one of the Divisions of the War Staff. The balance of officers and clerks was added to the Admiralty to discharge new duties. Who performed these duties before the addition was made? No one. What was the result? The Government were ignorant of all save obvious requirements, and often of those; and in the result, occurred periodical revelations of deficiencies (sometimes called panics), involving that excessive expenditure which is the price of neglect.

I have wrought hard to reform the system all my life. My successive sojourns in Parliament have been chiefly dedicated to that enterprise. So in 1902 I began again to hammer on the Parliamentary anvil. In March, I addressed the London Chamber of Commerce upon the lack of administrative efficiency in national organisation for defence. In June, I moved the reduction of the First Lord's salary in order to call attention to defects in Admiralty administration. It was pointed out that the time of commanders-in-chief upon most naval stations was habitually expended in representing to the Admiralty deficiencies which would never have occurred were there a Department at the Admiralty charged with the duty of providing against them; and that, in the lack of such a War Staff, the Budget for naval purposes was based upon financial and political considerations, leaving naval requirements out of the reckoning.

Mr. H. O. Arnold-Forster, Parliamentary Secretary to {480} the Admiralty, admitted that "there was need for reinforcement in the intellectual equipment which directed or ought to direct the enormous forces of the Empire." That was one way of putting it; he was perfectly right in affirming that (in similar language) a thinking department was required in which the best sailors and soldiers should combine to formulate the requirements of Imperial defence for the information of the Cabinet.

The Government would then (at least) know what the requirements were. In default of that knowledge, Ministers were open to the reproach expressed bluntly enough by The Saturday Review at the time (28th June, 1902):

"That the one essential qualification for commanding a great service such as our Navy should be an utter and entire ignorance of it and of everything belonging to it, so that this commander may approach the consideration of all questions relating to its well-being with absolute impartiality and perfect freedom from prejudice, is surely one of the most monstrous propositions ever put before men who were not candidates for Government departments at Yarmouth" (lunatic asylum).

In the following month (July) I asked Mr. Balfour (who succeeded Lord Salisbury as Prime Minister) in Parliament a question based upon Mr. Arnold-Forster's statement aforesaid, as it was the considered admission of a member of Government. The question was: "Whether the attention of the Government had been given to the need for some reinforcement of the intellectual equipment for directing the forces of the Empire and for better preparation in advance with regard to the defence of the Empire."

Mr. Balfour replied that he would be delighted to increase in any way the intellectual equipment in connection with this or any other subject. Upon being further asked what steps he proposed to take, Mr. Balfour merely added that he would be glad to avail himself of such talent as may be available.

The Press thereupon accused the Prime Minister of {481} frivolity. In December (1902), however, Mr. Balfour, in reply to another question asked by me in the House, said that the "whole subject is at this moment engaging the very earnest attention of the Government." There was already in existence a Committee of Defence constituted by Lord Salisbury, as described in a previous chapter, but apparently it had only met on one occasion, nor could anyone discover that it had ever done anything. In 1902, nearly twelve years had elapsed since the Hartington Commission had recommended the "formation of a Naval and Military Council, which should probably be presided over by the Prime Minister, and consist of the Parliamentary Heads of the two Services, and their principal professional advisers.... It would be essential to the usefulness of such a Council and to the interests of the country that the proceedings and decisions should be duly recorded, instances having occurred in which Cabinet decisions have been differently understood by the two departments and have become practically a dead letter."

It may be hoped, indeed, that records are kept of the meetings of the Committee of Imperial Defence. They should contain some singularly interesting information when the time comes for their publication, which will be when the nation insists, as it does insist now and then, upon finding a scapegoat.

To Mr. Balfour belongs the credit of having constituted the Committee of Imperial Defence. After the experiences of the South African war it could scarcely be argued that some such body was not needed. Here, then, was a ripe opportunity, not only for co-ordinating the administration of the two Services, not only for rightly estimating the requirements of Imperial defence, but for lifting the Services above party politics. That opportunity was lost. The Committee of Imperial Defence immediately became, what it has remained, a sub-committee of the Cabinet, wholly in subjection to party politics.

But in 1903, another and a highly important step was {482} taken towards organisation for war, in the formation of the Commercial Branch of the Intelligence Department at the Admiralty, charged with the duty of dealing with the relations of the Navy and the mercantile marine in time of war and with the protection of commerce and food supply.

A few years later, the Department was abolished during a period of confusion; but it was restored as part of the War Staff soon after the constitution of that body.

It will be observed that the utility of the Committee of Imperial Defence depended primarily upon the work of a War Staff; for its naval and military members could only be placed in possession of the information with regard to requirements which it was (theoretically) their duty to impart to the political members, by means of a War Staff. But for several years after the formation of the committee, there was no War Staff in existence at the Admiralty.

In December, 1902, occurred an opportunity for introducing physical and military instruction into the elementary schools. The Education Bill was then before Parliament; in the elementary school system, the machinery required to provide physical and military training already existed and in my view, it should be utilised, "in order that our manhood should have had some previous training if called upon to fight in defence of the Empire." With regard to physical education, its necessity was exemplified in the large number of recruits rejected for disabilities during the South African war; and as to military instruction, the proposal was based upon the necessity of teaching discipline and the rudiments of manly accomplishments to the young, by means of education in marching, giving orders, swimming, and shooting with a small-bore rifle. These considerations were placed by me before the Duke of Devonshire, who had charge of the Education Bill in the House of Lords, at the same time asking him to exert his influence to obtain the insertion of a clause embodying the proposals.

The Duke replied that Lord Londonderry, who was then Minister of Education, was considering how far it was {483} possible for the Board of Education to effect the objects desired. But he added the surprising information that "a considerable portion" of my suggestions "referred to matters which can only be dealt with by the War Office."

In the House of Commons, I moved that "physical and military instruction shall be compulsory in all schools supported by public funds." Then it was stated that the question of physical education could not be debated with reference to the Bill, but that there would be no objection to such a clause being inserted in the Education Code.

When I proposed accordingly that such a clause should be inserted in the Code of Education, Lord Londonderry said that he agreed with the Duke of Devonshire that such suggestions could only be dealt with by the War Office. I had no idea then, nor have I any conception now, what that cryptic statement meant. I pointed out at the time that it was wholly incomprehensible, the War Office having nothing whatever to do with elementary schools, but to no avail. The proposal was largely supported in the Press, but without effect upon the Government. The War Office phantom, which was about as relevant to the discussion as the ghost of Cæsar, proved irresistible. Nothing was done; except that the Government laid another brick in their favourite pathway of lost opportunities.

The use of oil fuel in battleships began in February, 1903; when the Mars and Hannibal went to sea, each fitted to burn oil in two boilers out of eight. One ship emitted white smoke, the other yellow; and both gave forth a smell so dreadful that, when I was in command of the Fleet, I told the captains of those vessels that I should place them to windward of the enemy as the two most formidable ships available. Nothing is better than oil fuel, on one condition—that you have got it.

The necessity of promoting officers to flag rank earlier, in order that they might gain the requisite experience while still young, was again urged by me, and to this end I advocated an increase of the rear-admirals' list. An {484} improvement has since been made in this respect. In 1902 there were 39 rear-admirals; in 1913, the number had been increased to 55.

Early in 1903, I visited America (for the third time), being most hospitably entertained by my old friend, Colonel Robert M. Thompson. During my stay with Colonel Thompson, who has been connected with the United States Navy, I saw much of the American Fleet, and had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with many American naval officers. Admiral Brownson I knew already; I had met Admiral Bob Evans in the Mediterranean when he was a commander; and I had enjoyed a conversation with Captain (now Admiral) Mahan upon his visit to England some years previously.

Admiral Evans was kind enough to place a torpedo-boat at my disposal, the Worden, in which I went from Pensacola to Pontagoorda. I astonished the signalman by reading a semaphore signal made to me by the flagship, before he did. The hospitality extended to me by the officers of the United States Navy was almost embarrassing in its profusion; and I shall always retain the pleasantest memories of that Service.

At a dinner of the Pilgrims' Society held at the Waldorf Hotel, New York, on 4th February, in the course of my address I observed that "battleships are cheaper than battles"; accidentally inventing a maxim of five words which does in fact contain the essence of naval policy, and which, touching the practical American imagination, ran throughout the United States.

In October, 1902, I was promoted to the rank of vice-admiral.

In February, 1903, having been offered the command the Channel Fleet, I resigned my seat at Woolwich; where I was succeeded by Mr. Will Crooks, who was elected on 11th March by a majority of 3229.



H.M.S. Majestic, first-class battleship, completed in 1895, sister ship to the Magnificent (which was built at Chatham during my time at that port as captain of the Steam Reserve), was one of nine ships of the same class; the rest being Magnificent, Hannibal, Prince George, Victorious, Jupiter, Mars, Cæsar and Illustrious. These represented an improvement on the preceding Royal Sovereign class, the Renown, a beautiful, somewhat smaller vessel, being a class by herself.

The Majestic is of 14,900 tons displacement, carries four 12-inch and twelve 6-inch guns, was of 17.5 knots designed speed, and had a complement of 772. My flag was hoisted in the Majestic on 17th April, 1903. The Channel Fleet, of which I was now in command, consisted of the Majestic (flag of vice-admiral), Magnificent (flag of Rear-Admiral the Hon. A. G. Curzon-Howe, and afterwards of Rear-Admiral the Hon. Hedworth Lambton), Jupiter, Hannibal, Mars, and Prince George, battleships; Hogue and Sutlej, armoured cruisers; and Doris, Pactolus and Prometheus, small cruisers.

Vice-Admiral Sir A. K. Wilson (now Admiral of the Fleet Sir A. K. Wilson, V.C., G.C.B., O.M., G.C.V.O.), whom I relieved, was a consummate master of the art of handling a Fleet, a great tactician, a man inexorably devoted to the Service, to which he gave unsparing labour.

The Staff in the Majestic consisted of the flag-captain, Hugh Evan-Thomas; the flag-commander, Michael Culme-Seymour; the flag-lieutenant, Charles D. Roper; and the {486} secretary, John A. Keys. The commander was Henry B. Pelly (now Captain Pelly, M.V.O.).

As the efficiency of the Fleet depends upon its admiral, so the admiral depends upon the officers of his staff and upon the captains under his command; because it is theirs to execute his policy. I have always said that they were the officers who did the work and who were entitled to the credit of it. In the conduct of a Fleet, it is first of all necessary that the admiral and the officers of the Fleet should work together in a common understanding. For this reason, the captains should have access to the admiral at all times of the day or night, and in all matters affecting the organisation and fighting efficiency of the Fleet they should be in full possession of his views, and the admiral of their views.

Efficiency consists in the maintenance of the most rigid discipline, together with cheerfulness, contentment and smartness. To this end, definite and strict orders must be issued; no mistake or failure, however small, must be allowed to pass, and, conversely, merit should be commended; and as much leave should be given as the exigencies of the Service permit. The admiral is responsible for the whole administration, smartness and efficiency of the Fleet. The captains are responsible for the administration, smartness and discipline of the individual ships of the Fleet. The officers and men of the Royal Navy are loyal to the core; and when a mistake occurs, it is usually due, not to a deficiency on their part but, to the failure of the senior officer of the Fleet to give his orders clearly and to show beforehand what is to be done and how it is to be done.

But for the adequate treatment of the subject of Fleet Administration, a volume would be needed; the principles only can be indicated in these pages, together with such instances of its practice as may serve a useful purpose or may possess intrinsic interest.

The question of giving leave, for example, is of essential importance, because the comfort and contentment of officers and men so largely depend upon the system employed. In {487} the Channel Fleet, the system was to give week-end leave, from after dinner on Saturday, every week, the liberty men being due on board at seven o'clock on the following Monday morning, so that, if the Fleet were at Portland, they had only one night at home. Many of the men were therefore obliged to spend Sunday night in travelling; often, if they were not to break their leave, arriving at the port hours before they could get a boat off to their ship, and spending the interval shelterless and miserable. In the result the number of leave-breakers was usually very large.

By means of altering the system, the number was at once reduced to a fraction, such, for instance, as eight men, all of whom were accounted for. Under the new arrangement weekend leave was allowed once a month, when the liberty men of one watch left their ships on Friday after dinner instead of upon Saturday, and returned on board at noon on Monday, instead of at seven o'clock in the morning. Thus they had three nights at home once a month, instead of one night at home twice a month; and had to pay only one fare for three nights, instead of two fares for two nights. In these matters the question of expense should always be considered. Another advantage was that whereas heretofore one watch was always absent on Sundays, under the new arrangement all officers and men were on board upon two Sundays in every month.

The Navy, unlike the Army, is always on active service, and is perpetually practising in peace what it will be required to do in war. In the Navy, the only difference between peace and war is that in war the target fires back. Hence it is that the record of a command afloat consists almost entirely of incessant routine work; such as the evolutions of: clear ship for action, boats pull round Fleet, collision and grounding stations, fire stations, out fire engine, moor ship, unmoor ship, out nets, in nets, taking in tow, casting off tow, let go sheet anchor, let go stern, kedge, bower anchors, weigh and cat sheet anchor by hand, in boom boats, let go and pick up both lifebuoys at sea, coaling, flag-signalling, man and arm boats, running {488} torpedoes, field-gun and company landing, rifle practice, etc. These are matters of course. The Fleet is constantly exercised in manoeuvres and in tactics; there is gunnery practice; and there are the periodical combined manoeuvres.

In the Fleet under my command, the drills and exercises were particularly onerous; for it was a rule never to go to sea or to steam from port to port without practising some exercise or tactical problem. For every pound's worth of coal burnt, a pound's worth of training. Officers and men delighted in these exercises; and all (including the commander-in-chief) learned something from them.

In July, 1903, the Channel Fleet assembled at Spithead to welcome the United States Squadron, consisting of the Kearsage, flag of Admiral Cotton, Chicago, San Francisco and Machias. The American officers were entertained to lunch by the Pilgrims' Society, and it fell to me to propose the United States Navy, Admiral Cotton responding. H.R.H. the Prince of Wales accepted an invitation to breakfast on board the American flagship.

In August took place the combined manoeuvres of the Channel, Home and Mediterranean Fleets; at their conclusion, the Fleets met in Lagos Bay for tactical exercises; 25 battleships, 42 cruisers, and gunboats and destroyers under the supreme command of Admiral Sir Compton E. Domville, G.C.V.O., K.C.B.

Colonel Robert M. Thompson was a welcome guest of mine at this time, and subsequently in all the ships in which I flew my flag. Colonel Thompson afterwards published some observations upon the manoeuvres in the Evening Post, U.S.A., from the point of view of an American officer who began his career in the United States Navy.

"When the three Fleets participating in those manceuvres were combined, there were 72 battleships and cruisers, with nearly 40,000 men, all under the command of one admiral; probably the strongest Fleet ever brought together in the history of the world. This enormous assemblage of vessels was handled without a single break. When the entire 72 {489} ran to anchor in eight lines, had there been a straight-edge placed in front of them it would not have shown a ship, it seems to me, a foot out of position. They made a 'flying moor,' and when you consider that in point of time, at the speed the ships were going, they were only one minute apart, every seaman will appreciate how wonderfully they must have been handled."

Colonel Thompson very kindly presented a challenge shield for the best gun in the flagship of the Channel Fleet (afterwards Atlantic Fleet), to be inscribed with the names of the crew of the best gun at the annual gunlayers' competition; and at the same time generously placed in trust a sum of money the interest of which, amounting to £10 a year, was to be presented to the winning gun's crew. The record for the Cæsar while my flag was flown in that vessel was 18 hits out of 21 rounds in two minutes.

In September, 1903, the Fleet visited Scarborough; in pursuance of the principle that to afford the public opportunities for seeing the Fleet and for making acquaintance with the ships, arouses and maintains a healthy interest in the Service. Upon this occasion, I invited my old constituents at York to visit the Fleet. They came in thousands; but sad to say, the weather was so bad that they could not leave the shore.

When the Fleet was visiting Ireland, a certain worthy character, very well known in Kingstown, Dublin, whose chosen occupation is—or was—selling newspapers, came to me, as his countryman, on board the Majestic, to his intense excitement.

"Glory to God, Lord Char-less," he screamed, "is that yourself in the gold hat!" And he shrieked like a macaw, so that the men began to crowd on deck to see what was the matter. I had to tell him to pipe down, or they would turn the fire-engine on him.

The story of the accident to the Prince George and its repair serves to illustrate the emergencies of sea life. The Channel Fleet was engaged in manoeuvres without lights off {490} Cape Finisterre, on the night of 17th October, 1903. Two midshipmen of the Prince George were relaxing their minds after the strain of the day's work with a hand at cards, when the game was interrupted by the entrance into the gun-room of the stem of the Hannibal, before which apparition the young gentlemen incontinently fled.

The signal instantly made by the Hannibal, "Have collided with the Prince George," was received on board the flagship at 9.41 p.m. During the next half-hour the masthead flashing lamps winked their messages back and forth; and at 10.10 the Prince George signalled that there was a large hole in her gun-room, and that the submerged flat, cockpit and steering compartment were full of water.

The actual extent of the injury, as afterwards ascertained, caused by the impact upon the port quarter of a 15,000 ton battleship travelling at about nine knots, was an indentation in the form of an inverted pyramid, the apex at the level of the protective steel deck, the base level with the upper deck, measuring 24 feet 8 inches in height, and 6 feet 6 inches across at the upper deck, and diminishing to a crack at the apex, where the ship's side had been driven in to a depth of 1 foot 4 inches, by the impact of the Hannibal. In the centre of the indentation was a triangular rift, starting from the crack at the bottom, measuring 3 feet 4 inches in height and 1 foot 6 inches in breadth at the top.

At 11 o'clock p.m. I went on board the Prince George; examined into the damage; made a general signal to the Fleet ordering all hand-pumps and 14 foot planks and plenty of wedges to be sent on board the Prince George. Under Captain F. L. Campbell, perfect discipline had been maintained; the collision mat had been placed over the injury; and the men were working cheerily with hand-pumps and baling out with buckets the water from the gun-room. The rudder was out of action, the steam-pipes being full of water. The engineer-commander had wisely shut off steam when the helm was amidships, thus avoiding the jamming of the rudder. Had the rudder jammed to {491} starboard or to port, the difficulty of steering by the screws would have been greatly increased. The bulkheads closing in the compartments which were full of water, and all horizontal water-tight doors, were shored up with baulks of timber. But the water was still coming in, because, owing to the indentation in the side of the ship, the collision mat did not fit tightly to it.

The Fleet was ordered to proceed to Ferrol.

I sent on a boat to buoy the sunken rocks; a proceeding which aroused the suspicions of the Spanish authorities; who, however, upon learning the circumstances, were most courteous and obliging. The boat, however, was only able to get down one buoy.

The Howe had gone aground in the passage into Ferrol in 1892, and three vessels had gone aground subsequently.

Captain Campbell took the Prince George into Ferrol harbour, up the tortuous channel, which, owing to unbuoyed sunken rocks, is difficult and dangerous. Under my directions Captain Campbell steered by the screws, both screws going slow, or going astern slow with one propeller, and stopping the other, according to which way it was necessary to turn her head, and thus reducing her way if she were nearing a rock, and by this method keeping her under perfect control. At this time the ship was heavily down by the stern, drawing 25 feet 2 inches forward and 34 feet 6 inches aft. Her stern walk was flush with the water.

Immediately upon the arrival of the Prince George in Ferrol harbour (on Sunday, 18th October) divers and working parties were sent to her from all the other ships, and the Spanish Government courteously placed the resources of the dockyard at my disposal. The working parties worked day and night in three watches. On Monday, the Hogue, armoured cruiser, Captain John L. Marx, M.V.O., was placed alongside the Prince George and employed her salvage pumps.

The first thing to do was to prevent more water from coming in and to get rid of the water already in the ship. {492} Mats were made of canvas, thrummed with blankets, and these, with collision mats cut up, and shot mats, were thrust horizontally through the holes in the ship's side and wedged up so that the ends of the mats projected inside and out; and the moisture, causing them to swell, closed up the holes. At the same time the water was being pumped out and coffer-dams were being constructed on the inside of the ship.

The coffer-dam was a stout wooden partition built round the injury in the ship side, thoroughly buttressed from within the ship with stout baulks of timber. It thus formed a chamber, which was filled up with all sorts of absorbent and other material, such as seamen's beds, blankets, rope, hammocks, pieces of collision mats, gymnasium mattresses, cushions, biscuit tins, etc. Thus the coffer-dam formed a block, part absorbent and part solid, wedged and shored over the site of the injury. In addition, the splintered wood sheathing was cut away and trimmed up, and the mouth of the submerged torpedo tube was stopped up with blankets and wedges, and sealed up with 3/16-inch steel plate bolted to the ship's side.

The extent of the injury may be exemplified by the amount of stuff used for filling up the coffer-dams and for stopping the leaks, which was: 10 shot hole stopper mats; two collision mats 15 feet by 15 feet; 350 seamen's hammocks, nine boats' covers, 14 coat-shoot covers, eight steaming cov