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astonishment, when, as a boy of his services were daily becoming twelve and a half, he went up more and more valuable to the firsttremblingly for his examination- lieutenant, a captain who had at in much doubt and anxiety as to heart the future prosperity of the whether his stock of Latin, French, young officers under his command, and Euclid would be deemed suffi- would take care that their study cient to gain him admission into hours were interfered with as little the Navy-he found sums in simple as possible. addition and subtraction placed be But this was the bright side of fore him! However, it is a signi- the picture. It not unfrequently ficant comment upon the mode of happened that, from peculiar cireducating boys in this country, that cumstances, the school hours were the majority of lads who fail in the unavoidably broken into; the capexamination upon joining the Navy, tain's cabin - the usual place of even to this day, break down in study-might be otherwise occuwriting from dictation, being in pied; and it was not always easy, or some instances quite unable to even practicable, to set apart any spell even the easiest words ! other place where the studies could
For the further instruction of be carried on with any degree of the youngsters, after joining the satisfaction. And it must be conservice, naval instructors in all the fessed that while many—and those larger ships were supposed to teach our best officers—took the greatest the young gentlemen the mysteries pains in the improvement of their of navigation; the gunnery officer youngsters, instances to the coninstructed him in the great-gun and trary were unhappily not rare ; and small-arm drills, and his duties on the want of interest evinced by the board in the course of time taught captain produced its effect in the him seamanship. And so, after indifference of the instructor, and six years in a midshipman's berth, the consequent backwardness of the he faced his examiners with a pupils. Forthe effectual carrying out beating and anxious heart, only too of a system of schoolroom instructhankful if he passed through the tion on board a sea-going man-ofdreaded ordeal, and received the war must, under
circumstances, precious document setting forth be a difficult task, and can only prothat he was duly qualified to take duce satisfactory results when enupon himself the charge and com couraged to the utmost by the officer mand of a lieutenant in her Ma in command. In many cases the jesty's fleet. The amount of in- studies were suffered to be considstruction which the young gentle- ered as subordinate to the ordinary men received varied exceedingly. work of the ship; and when the In those ships whose captains took naval instructor had, after some an especial interest in the welfare difficulty perhaps, obtained a place of their midshipmen, and were for his duties, and came to assemble themselves men of cultivated minds, his pupils, he would find that Mr able to appreciate rightly the ines- A. had been sent away on boat duty, timable advantage of a good educa- Mr B. was particularly required on tion, the naval instructors were deck, and Mr C. had been given supported and encouraged in their leave to go
And in duties. And for the first two years cases where the naval instructor of their service, or until they be was left wholly unsupported, as came midshipmen, the youngsters sometimes happened, some of his were excused from all other duty pupils, preferring a caulk on the during school hours, the claims of lockers of the midshipmen's berth the naval instructor upon their time or the charms of a new novel, would being considered paramount to all give themselves leave of absence others. Even during the later part from school, in confident security of the midshipman's career, when from any unpleasant consequences.
Although then, the naval instruc- either at home or abroad, wherever tors were, as a body, able and zeal- three captains or commanders could ous, and always anxious to impart be assembled together; but the very to the young officers under their nature of the subject prevented any instruction such knowledge as lay set form of questions being put, in their power, yet in cases such as or any scale of numbers attainthese it was not in human nature ed, and necessitated the vivâ-voce that they could avoid falling into de- form. Therefore the degree of spondency at the difficulties which strictness of the examination debeset them in the first place, and pended entirely upon the disposi.. into utter indifference thereafter. tion of the examining officers, and
Moreover, it was only in the varied through every stage between larger ships that naval instructors excessive harshness and extreme were borne. In the very numerous laxity. Thus it often happened classes of vessels commanded by that officers notoriously incompecommanders and lieutenants there tent were returned as qualified, is no accommodation for a naval while others—young men of good instructor, and it was left entirely ability and much promise—were to the option of the master or se turned back for months. The guncond-master to undertake the teach- nery examination on board the Exing of the young officers in the in- cellent was a very strict one; it tervals of his regular duties; the was conducted by regular examinonly encouragement afforded him ers, and lasted three days; it refor so doing being the magnificent quired a complete knowledge of the sum of five pounds per annum for subject to receive a certificate of each pupil! And the complement qualification, and on this head of officers in these vessels being there was nothing to be desired. small, the services of the midship- The examination for navigation at men for the duties of the ship could the College was carried out, as far not be often dispensed with ; there as it went, with the greatest strictfore in many instances the know ness and impartiality ; but it conledge acquired by them in any sisted of only the mere practice of branch of their profession, beyond navigation, required no mathematithat of seamanship, was of the cal knowledge whatever,* and obsmallest amount.
taining even the highest honours The consequence of all this was, implied no more than a superficial that many fine young men—whose knowledge of the subject. Yet it ill-fortune bad placed them during was quite suitable to the amount of the greater part of their midship- instruction which the midshipmen man's time in small vessels, or had, as a general rule, been able to whose studies had, from the causes receive. we have pointed out, been neglect Passed through this ordeal, and ed -- found themselves, when the arrived at the position of a comperiod arrived for their examination, missioned officer of the fleet, a utterly unfit for the trial ; and pre- young man found himself, except ferred leaving the service of their in rare instances, entirely devoid of own accord to the discredit of any save professional knowledge, being rejected again and again. and that even of a very limited na
The subjects in which the candi- ture. Foreign languages, history, dates were examined to qualify for mathematics, the natural sciences, the rank of lieutenant were three- and even the fundamental laws by seamanship, gunnery, and naviga means of which he carried out the tion. The examination in the first practice of navigating his ship—all of these was of a very unsatisfac were known to him by name only ; tory nature. It could take place and every year of service, every step
We are now speaking of previousiy to 1857.
he gained, brought his deficiencies mittee appointed in the previous more forcibly home to him. Thus year the Admiralty adopted the at the age when education is usu- pian of a training-ship for naval ally completed, and young men are cadets, through which all those joinsettled down to the duties of their ing the service for the future were professions, those naval officers to pass. The age of entry into the whose minds recoiled from the training-ship was to be from thirthought of passing their lives in teen to fifteen, and a candidate was such a state of general ignorance, required to pass an examination in were compelled to begin at the very the following subjects : Latin or rudiments of learning, and in many French, geography, Scripture hiscases to sit down to decimal frac- tory; arithmetic, including protions, the elements of algebra, and portion and fractions ; algebra as the first book of Euclid. That this is far as fractions, and Euclid as far not only not an overdrawn picture, as the thirty-second proposition of but a case of constant occurrence,
the first book. Candidates over every naval man will readily allow. fourteen years of age were also re
To their credit be it said, a large quired to have a knowledge of number of officers, dissatisfied with the use of the globes, with definitheir very limited knowledge, appli- tions, algebra to simple equations, ed themselves with diligence in their the whole of the first book of Eucintervals of employment to this—in lid, and the elements of plane trimany instances distasteful—task; gonometry.
Six months was the and numerous are the names famous minimum and twelve months the in the service by scientific attain- maximum time allowed in the trainments, whose information was only ing-ship, according to age, those acquired by indomitable resolution joining under fourteen being allowand unremitting perseverance at a ed the whole year's instruction. At comparatively late period of their the termination of the regulated lives. Fully sensible of the defici- period, the cadet had to undergo a encies of the midshipman's educa- second examination, including all tion, though taking no steps to im- the subjects of the previous one, prove it, the Admiralty did certainly except Latin ; and in addition to offer some slight encouragement to these, involution and evolution, these officers, as will be seen here- simple equations, the elements of after.
geometry, and of plane and spheriThose officers who had joined the cal trigonometry, the simple rules service through the College were of of navigation, the use of nautical course not to such an extent defi- instruments, French, and a slight cient in educational acquirements ; knowledge of surveying and conbut as they went to sea at the age of structing charts. If the cadet passfifteen at latest, their proficiency at ed this examination satisfactorily, an after period depended to a great he was forthwith appointed to a extent upon how they kept up the sea-going ship, and at the expiraknowledge they had gained while tion of fifteen months' service he at the College. Still, if any proof was eligible for the rating of midwere required of the valuable re- shipman upon passing a further exsults to be derived from a course of amination. If he failed in the extraining, such as that in practice at amination on leaving the trainingthe Naval College, it may be found ship, he was to be rejected from the in the fact, that many of our most service entirely. distinguished officers passed through The plan of instruction in the that establishment at the outset of training-ship likewise comprised an their career.
elaborate course of seamanship, as This most unsatisfactory state of follows :matters continued until 1857, when
“ First Instruction.--A general know-acting upon the report of a com- ledge of the different parts of the hull of
a ship, and how they are connected; and hydrostatics—not to mention the names of the masts, yards, and sails, the athletic exercises of the cutlassand how lower masts and yards are built; drill, swimming, and gymnastics— to make all the bends and hitches, and
and that the time allowed for the to know the purposes for which they are used ; to know all the signal flags and
raw schoolboy to get through this pendants, and to paint them in a book. programme was from six to twelve
“Second Instruction.—Boat exercise, months; it may well be imagined rowing, and sailing ; to be able to pull what a process of “ cram” it must an oar, to steer, and to understand the have been, even to gain a superficial principles of managing a boat under knowledge of such a variety of particular use of each signal flag and subjects, all previously unknown, pendant, and be able readily to look out and many perhaps even unheard of, a signal in the signal books; to be able by him; and how extremely imto heave the log, and to calculate the probable it was that learning thus length of the line for each knot. * Third Instruction.—Knotting and afterwards retained. In fact, the
preternaturally acquired could be splicing; cutting out, fitting, placing, Admiralty had overshot the mark, and setting up rigging ; questions in the standing rigging ; names and use
and had gone to the opposite exof all the blocks in a ship.
treme. In their laudable anxiety “ Fourth Instruction.-General prin. to steer the educational bark clear ciples of stowing holds and provisions; of the rocky Scylla of neglect, they position and arrangement of all the had wellnigh swamped it in the stores; the general internal arrange- Charybdis of excess.
Not that the ment of a man-of-war; general prin
course of instruction was ill-calculciples of berthing, messing, watching, and stationing men ; general duties of ated to the wants of the Navy-far officers and petty officers with regard to from it; a better-digested scheme, the different parts of the ship.
one more suitable, could not have “Fifth Instruction. --- Methods of set- been planned ; but the time alting, reefing, furling, shifting, and tak- lowed to get through it was far too ing in sails, and making them up; limited. Two years at the very shifting a topsail and a topgallant-yard, and a topgallant-mast; principles of least should have been passed in securing the yards for hoisting in boats ;
the training-ship, and even this to learn how all the ropes are led, and would not have been sufficient to their use.
gain a satisfactory knowledge of “Sixth Instruction.-Knowledge of all the subjects embraced in the the compass, hand and deep-sea leads, above scheme of instruction. This use of the helm, and the general princi- is strikingly evidenced by an anecples of maneuvring a ship ; to know
dote related in a very interesting the names of the different parts of an anchor, and the gear used for stowing pamphlet, written by Captain Haranchors; to understand the use of ris, R.N., late in command of the chain and hemp cables; the method of Britannia, from which we have obletting go and weighing an anchor, and tained the above sketch of the past passing messenger, nippers, and stop history of naval education. Cappers, and bending and bitting a cable,
tain Harris relates that he 66 was and the use of compressors ; method of mooring and unmooring, keeping a ship much struck with a remark made clear of her anchor, also the method of by an Austrian professor, who had clearing hawse ; the effect of wind on been sent by his Government to the sails in turning the ship ; the direc visit and report upon the system of tion of pressure on the masts; the training British cadets. After careeffect of altering the trim of the ship on the helin, and how she is balanced by establishment, he asked, “How many
fully investigating every part of the the sails.
years were allowed for this course When it is considered that, in of study ?' And the same question addition to all this, the cadets was asked by an intelligent Swedish were likewise to learn drawing, and captain, who had been at the head to attend lectures upon steam, of their Naval College.” chemistry, astronomy, mechanics, At the same time that the above
system was instituted, the final The arrangements of the Britanexamination of a midshipman for nia were excellent as far as they the rank of lieutenant was went. There was abundant work tended so as to be in accordance to be done, and there was not much with the new course of instruction, fear that the boys would fall into The Illustrious, an old two-decker, mischief through lack of employwas the first training-ship estab- ment, at all events. But the period lished; but she was soon found to of training was still far too short, be too small for the purpose, and the and the principle upon which the Britannia was fitted to take herplace. system was based is an erroneous
In 1860 and 1861 the system one, as we will endeavour to show was modified to that now in force. presently. Moreover, the situation The age of entry into the Britannia of the Britannia was open to grave is now from twelve to fourteen; objections, moored as she was in the examination on entry is the Portsmouth harbour, within a stone's same as that above mentioned for throw of the dangers and temptaboys under fourteen years of age, tions of a seaport garrison-town. except that any foreign living lan- Every precaution was taken by guage may be substituted for Latin the gallant officer in command to or French, the Euclid is reduced to keep the lads clear of the snares the definitions only of the first book, which surrounded them, and he was and no algebra is required. The zealously seconded by the staff of course of instruction is now uniform officers and instructors under his -twelve months; general quarterly orders: in fact, it may without fear examinations are held, and those of contradiction be said, that in no cadets who do not exhibit satisfac- public school in the country are the tory progress, or whose bad con- boys more carefully looked after duct shows them to be unsuited to than on board the Britannia. But the service, are reported to the Ad- it was felt, nevertheless, that Portsmiralty with a view to being dis- mouth harbour was not a desirable missed. At the completion of the situation (morally speaking) for a year's instruction, the cadet under- ship full of young lads; and the goes an examination, as before, on Admiralty, taking advantage of leaving the training-ship. The full some cases of fever which had ocnumber of marks obtainable at this curred, and which had caused a examination is 3000; and if he good deal of unfounded alarm in gains 2100, he gets a first-class certi- the mind of the public, sent the ficate, which entitles him at once to Britannia to Portland Roads as her the rating of midshipman, and gives future station, and since then she him a year's sea-time. 1500 num has been again moved to Dartbers give a second-class certificate, mouth. And although the close with six months' sea-time: in this vicinity of a first-class dockyard case the cadet must serve six months is a thing very desirable, for the as such before be can be rated purpose of practical instruction midshipman, for which he must
in many subjects which cannot be pass a further examination. A so well studied elsewhere, yet we third-class certificate requires 1200 think, under the circumstances, the numbers: this gives no sea-time, removal of the Britannia from Portsand the cadet must serve twelve mouth harbour was a very judicious months before he is eligible to pass and proper measure. his examination for a midshipman's We have seen that in 1837 the rating If he obtains less than Royal Naval College was closed as 1200 marks, he is discharged as un such for the education of volunteers qualified for the service. Prizes -as naval cadets were then called. and distinctive badges are also It was reopened two years afterawarded for good conduct and pro- wards upon a totally different footficiency in studies.
ing, and for a different purpose ;