The Life of Thomas, Lord Cochrane, Tenth Earl of Dundonald, Vol. II
by Thomas Lord Cochrane
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That document was presented by Sir Robert Preston to the Duke of Clarence, who promised to use every endeavour to obtain a reconsideration of Lord Cochrane's case. He was unsuccessful. "Dear Sir," he wrote to Sir Robert Preston on the 14th of June, "immediately on the receipt of the memorial you brought from Lord Cochrane, I sent it to the Duke of Wellington, with a request it might be considered by his Majesty's confidential servants, and last evening I had a communication from his Grace to state that the King's Cabinet cannot comply with the prayer of the memorial. I ever remain, dear Sir, yours sincerely, William."

The harsh news of this failure was sent to Paris, whither Lord Cochrane had gone in furtherance of his efforts for the assistance of Greece.

To Paris he returned, as we have seen, after his final departure from Greece, and there he resided with his family for about six months. He paid a brief visit to England in September, 1829; but, seeing no immediate prospect of gaining the restitution of his naval rank, and finding that idle life at home was especially irksome to him, he soon went back to the Continent. The serious illness of Lady Cochrane induced him to pass the winter in Italy, where by the same cause he was detained for several months. He was in England again in the autumn of 1830.

One motive for his return was the accession of the Duke of Clarence to the throne as King William IV. The new sovereign's often-expressed sympathy for him, induced him to hope that now he had a better chance of obtaining the justice that had been so long withheld. The change of sovereigns, however, was of small avail while the ministers who had summarily rejected his former memorial continued to have the direction of affairs. "To petition or memorialize the King whilst his present ministers remain in office," he said in a letter written on the 10th of September, "would be to debase myself in my own estimation, and, I think, in that of every man of sense and feeling." "I cannot petition again," he said in another letter; "though I am assured from high authority it would be attended to. Sir Robert Wilson and others have obtained favour; but I, who protested against the forging of charts and public waste of money, have had no mercy shown!" Lord Cochrane ascertained, about this time, that his memorial of 1828, though sent by the Duke of Clarence for the consideration of King George IV., had never reached his Majesty, the Cabinet having preferred to dismiss it at once. He therefore had good reason for abstaining from further action until a more friendly ministry should be in power.

He had not long to wait. On the 16th of November, the Duke of Wellington's Cabinet resigned. In the Administration which succeeded Earl Grey was Premier, and Mr. Brougham, raised to the peerage, was Lord Chancellor. Lord Cochrane then lost no time in completing a "Review" of his case, which he had prepared for publication, and in getting ready some early copies of the volume to be presented to the King and his ministers.

The King's copy was forwarded through Lord Melbourne, the Home Secretary, on the 10th of December, accompanied by a brief petition. "Assured that the memorial which I laid before your Majesty when Lord High Admiral," wrote Lord Cochrane, "was honoured with your earnest consideration, and that your Majesty was graciously pleased to make an effort in my behalf, with the desire of restoring me to my station in the navy; assured, too, that, had not the ministers of his late most gracious Majesty been opposed to the prayer of my memorial, I should then have been restored; and believing that no such obstacle to your Majesty's favour would be now interposed, I have every reason to hope that the auspicious moment is at length arrived when the redress which I have so long sought will be freely bestowed by my most gracious Sovereign. I beseech your Majesty to condescend to receive the accompanying review of my case, which, I trust, will prove to your Majesty that I am not unworthy of that act of your Majesty's favour which I humbly solicit. It is not because I have undergone a sentence heavier than the law pronounced, it is not because I have been deprived for sixteen years of the rank and honours which I acquired in the Royal Navy, nor is it because I am deserving of any consideration on account of services to my King and country, that I now presume to appeal to your Majesty,—though no one is more likely than your Majesty to feel for my sufferings, and no one more competent to appreciate my services,—but it is because I had no participation in, and no knowledge, not even the most indistinct or remote, of the crime under the imputation of which I have been so variously and so unceasingly punished. It is this alone which impels me to approach your Majesty, and this alone which enables me."

Other copies of the "Review" having been sent to the Cabinet Ministers, with letters urging its favourable consideration, Lord Cochrane, in nearly every case, received a friendly answer. "I need not say," wrote Earl Grey on the 12th of December, "that it would give me great satisfaction if it should be found possible to comply with the prayer of your petition. This opinion I expressed some years ago in a letter which, I believe, was communicated to you. To the sentiments expressed in that letter I refer, which, if I remember right, acquitted you of all blame, except such as might have been incurred by inadvertence and by having suffered yourself to be led by others into measures of the consequences of which you were not sufficiently aware."

More than a year was to be spent, however, in persevering effort before Lord Cochrane's claim for justice was acceded to. Objection was taken by some to the form in which his address to the King was worded. It was "a letter," they said, and not "a petition;" and Lord Cochrane was distressed at hearing, on the 18th, that the document had been given back by his Majesty to Lord Melbourne without any comment.

"If I have erred as to the form of my petition, which was in the shape of a most respectful and dutiful letter to his Majesty, or as to the channel through which it should have been forwarded," said Lord Cochrane in a letter to Earl Grey, written on the 23rd of December, "I have erred in judgment only; and it would be hard indeed should redress not be accorded by reason of an informality in the mode of my application. I have since been advised that my petition ought to have been forwarded through the First Lord of the Admiralty, whom I have therefore solicited to present another petition, the same in effect, but more brief, and in the regular form. When his Majesty was Lord High Admiral he received a memorial from me by the hands of Sir Robert Preston, and though it had not the effect, of procuring my restoration at that time, yet from the gracious manner in which, I am assured, it was received, I did flatter myself that his Majesty would have pleasure in the opportunity, which appeared to present itself when your lordship's Administration was formed, of originating a measure which all would consider gracious, and most, I hope, believe to be perfectly just. In reference to the letter, in answer to mine, with which your lordship honoured me on the 12th instant, which I cannot but perceive is written with a kindness of feeling which commands my best thanks, I beg only to state that any opinion of me in regard to the crime imputed to me that does not fully acquit me of all knowledge thereof whatever does not do me justice. That crime was contrived and completed so entirely without my knowledge that I had not the most distant idea of its having been meditated until I read of its commission in the public prints." In a brief reply to that letter Earl Grey stated that, the petition having been presented to the King and being now under consideration, no more formal address need be sent in lieu of it.

Thus Lord Cochrane had only to await the result of his application, and he waited for sixteen months. During that interval many friends interceded on his behalf, especially Lord Durham and Lord Auckland, and from time to time his hopes were quickened by information that the subject was still being considered by his Majesty's ministers, who were anxious that right should be done.

But he was often disappointed. "The King," he said, in a letter written on the 1st of April, "has invited all the Knights of the Bath to dine with him on the 12th, which is the anniversary of the affair of Basque Roads, as well as that of Grambier's installation. If nothing is done on that day I shall not obtain justice during the life of William IV. Indeed, I understand that every effort has been made to influence the King to my prejudice."

"I was at an evening party at the Marquess of Lansdowne's on Friday," wrote Lord Cochrane on the 25th of April, "and there I met the Lord Chancellor [Brougham] who was very civil indeed, and told me they had a battle to fight for me, and hoped they would succeed. Since then the electors of the borough of Southwark have sent a deputation to beg me to stand; but hearing that Brougham's brother was also to be a candidate, I have declined opposing him. I had a double motive for this line of conduct, for, had I been returned to Parliament, I could not conscientiously have accepted a favour at the hands of the ministers of the Crown."

Service in the House of Commons was, soon after that, made impossible to Lord Cochrane. His father, Archibald, ninth Earl of Dundonald, died on the 1st of July, 1831. Lord Cochrane then ceased to be a commoner, and became in succession, when he was nearly fifty-six years old, Earl of Dundonald.

As Earl of Dundonald, however, he found it no easier to obtain an answer to his demand for justice than as Lord Cochrane. In September he heard that his opponents were making use of some Admiralty correspondence respecting his conduct in Chili, nearly ten years before, to throw fresh difficulties in his way. He at once applied to Sir James Graham, the First Lord of the Admiralty, for extracts from this correspondence of any parts requiring explanation, in order that he might furnish the same. "I beg leave to state," wrote Sir James in reply, "that it is not usual for his Majesty's Government to produce, from the records of public offices, documents which do not appear to be required for any public purpose. I am therefore under the necessity of declining to comply with your lordship's request." "Is it not astonishing," said Lord Dundonald, in a letter to the Duke of Hamilton, "that Sir James Graham does not consider justice to an individual to be a public object?"

Tired out, at length, by the delays in the settlement of his case, Lord Dundonald wisely resolved to seek a personal interview with the King. With that object he went down to Brighton, and the interview was readily granted to him on Sunday, the 27th of November. He was graciously received, and the King listened attentively to his respectful claim for a fair investigation of the matter, and for permission to rebut any charges that might be brought against him respecting his conduct in connection with the Stock Exchange fraud, his Chilian service, or any other portion of his life that had been or could be complained of. His Majesty promised to see that the case was fairly looked into, and Lord Dundonald was not long in observing the good effects of his bold step.

"Lady Dundonald has seen Lord Grey, and he has expressed his readiness to do all he can," he wrote from London on the 17th of December. "But I understand there is something in the way. Burdett assures me that he will bring the whole affair before Parliament if they do not do me justice."

Sir Francis Burdett, who, never flagging in his friendship, had rendered valuable assistance during these weary months, continued in the same course to the end; but it was not necessary for him to appeal to Parliament in this case. Yet its settlement was further delayed. "I am unwilling to trespass on your lordship's most valuable time," wrote Lord Dundonald to Earl Grey, on the 28th of January, 1832; "but as it is now two months since I had the honour of an audience of the King, and of presenting to his Majesty my humble memorial setting forth my claims to be heard in my defence in refutation of the accusations existing against me in the Admiralty, and praying that I might be furnished with copies of the accusatory documents, I can no longer refrain from entreating your lordship to relieve my mind from its present state of most painful suspense by making me acquainted with the decision of the Government. From my knowledge of your lordship's considerate feelings towards me, and of your desire, should it be found practicable and just, to restore me to my place in his Majesty's service, and from that consciousness of my own integrity which has maintained me during so many years of adversity, I cannot but be sanguine, notwithstanding the delay, of an ultimately favourable result. But the period of suspense is not only one of great mental anxiety, but in other respects most injurious. It places me in a position worse than that which I was in under the former Administration, which at once decided to dismiss my complaint without consideration, and spared me that uncertainty which 'makes the heart sick.' While those ministers were in power my character sustained no injury from their refusal to do me justice. But under the Administration of your lordship, the public opinion must be that my case has received every consideration, and that the ascertained justice of the verdict against me is the bar to my restoration. This opinion already operates so much to my disadvantage and annoyance as to paralyze all my pursuits, and will shortly compel me, unless your lordship spares me that sacrifice, to quit a country of which I have never, by any act of my life, rendered myself unworthy, and in the bosom of which, unless called out again in her service, I would fain spend the remainder of my life in tranquillity."

That letter was delivered by the Countess of Dundonald, who at this time, as at all others, laboured with rare energy and tact to lighten her husband's heavy load of suffering and to augment his scanty store of joy. "Lady Dundonald," he wrote on the 6th of February, "has had a long talk with Lord Grey on the subject of my affair, and it clearly appears that there are two individuals in the Cabinet who will not give in. It is now, however, determined that Lady Dundonald—I being out of town—shall go to the King with a very proper memorial on her part, praying that the stain on the family may be wiped away by a free pardon. It is supposed that this will succeed; because in that case the King can exercise his prerogative without other counsel than that of his Prime Minister, who is favourable."

That term "free pardon" was galling to Lord Dundonald. He knew that he had done nothing which needed forgiveness. It was justice, not pardon, that he sought. He had suffered so much, however, from official formalities, and his honest resentment of them, that he now reluctantly consented to accept the virtual acquittal which was the great object of his hopes and toils, though it might be couched in a phrase none the less distasteful to him because it was the phrase that from time immemorial had been used as a cloak for the withdrawal of official wrong.

His concession was successful. "The King," he was able to write on the 4th of March, "has at last promised to do that which the late Administration refused, and the present ministry had not the power or courage to accomplish. For this I am indebted to the zealous exertions of Lady Dundonald, who has been at Brighton, and has left Lord Grey and others no rest until her object was accomplished. Thus, you see, perseverance has done more than reason, right, and justice. The fact is that great folks neither read nor trouble themselves with judging from facts on subjects which do not immediately concern themselves. I have no doubt that the 'Review' has never been looked into by one of the ministers."

The "free pardon" was promised on the 28th of February, but it was not formally granted till five weeks afterwards. Lord Dundonald ascertained that one cause of the long delay in considering his case was the heat of party fight occasioned by the Reform Bill. The Government feared to show any kindness to a man whom the Tories had so long and so persistently reviled, lest thereby they should lose in the House of Commons a few wavering votes that were important. The Reform Bill passed the Lower House, for the second time, at the end of March.[14] Its final adoption being expected with less difficulty than arose, it was now easier to do justice to Lord Dundonald. "I was happy to hear your memorial to the King read in Council and referred to the Admiralty," the Earl of Durham wrote to him on the 16th of April. "I trust we may eventually have the means of doing an act of private as well as of public justice, and that I shall see you restored to that service of which you are the highest ornament. But you well know that you have had not only my best wishes, but my warmest exertions, for the attainment of that object."

[14] "My dear Lord Durham," wrote the Earl of Dundonald, on the 15th of April, "allow me most sincerely to congratulate you on the attainment of the great object which the present Administration has now, so honourably for themselves and so fortunately for the country, brought to a pass wherein no retrograde movement can take place, whatever may be the obstructions offered by the interested proprietors of borough influence, or by persons whose ideas of Government have been formed under the tuition of preceding Administrations. It is rare felicity for a nation to be governed by men having the liberality and justice which induce them to confer free institutions peacefully on the country; institutions which merit the gratitude of all who now exist, and will receive the unqualified applause of future generations. The page of history affords no parallel to the present event."

The object was at last attained. At a Privy Council held on the 2nd of May, a "free pardon" was granted to the Earl of Dundonald. He was restored to his position in the Royal Navy, and, on the 8th, gazetted as a Rear-Admiral of the Fleet.

In that capacity he was presented to King William IV. at the levee held on the 9th of May; and congratulations poured in from all quarters as soon as the good news was published. But he could not, even in the first moments of rejoicing, forget that the cause of congratulation was only a pardon for an offence which he had never committed, and for which he had been enduring heavy punishment during sixteen years of his life.




Lord Dundonald's father, the ninth earl, had devoted the chief energies of his long life to scientific pursuits, which won for him, not profit, but well-earned fame, and which proved of immense benefit to his own and succeeding generations. By him was discovered the art of extracting tar from coal, and out of that discovery was developed, partly by him and partly by others, the manufacture of gas, first used for lighting his tar-works. The important chemical process of making alkali and crystals of soda was also introduced by him, whereby a great impetus was given to the manufacture of glass and to many other important branches of industry. He discovered the present method of preparing alum, or sulphate of vitriol, and suggested its substitution for gum senegal, which has proved hardly less advantageous to the mechanical arts. In 1795, he published a treatise, the result of numerous and costly experiments, on the connection between agriculture and chemistry, which was almost the parent of all the later researches that have issued in beneficial plans for improving the soil and invigorating the growth of crops, and in various and important developments of scientific farming.

The tenth Earl of Dundonald inherited his father's mechanical and scientific genius. The lamp invented by him in 1814, which introduced the principle upon which all later lamps for burning oil, naphtha, and other combustibles have been constructed, has been already referred to. Many other inventions and discoveries occupied his leisure during the years in which he was allowed to follow his profession both in British and in foreign service;[15] and the fuller leisure forced upon him during the years following his return from Greece was chiefly devoted to further exercise of his inventive faculties.

[15] It is interesting to note that the recent introduction among us of the Turkish bath was due to Lord Dundonald. "Having recovered," says Dr. Gosse, in his treatise "Du Bain Turc," p. 58, "from two attacks of intermitting fever, I visited the islands of the Archipelago until summoned to Nauplia by Admiral Cochrane, who was then on board the little steam-vessel Mercury. There the air of the gulf, and the marshy miasma, brought on another attack of fever, from which I feared a fatal issue. Lord Cochrane had the kindness to take me in his arms, and to place me in the current of steam, which caused me to perspire freely. My illness disappeared as by enchantment." A similar service was rendered by Lord Dundonald to Mr. David Urquhart, whose attention was thus called to the advantages of the Turkish bath, and who became its great advocate.

To the wonderful invention known as his "secret war-plan" allusion will presently be made. His other most important mechanical pursuits had for their principal object the improvement of steam-engines and other appliances for steam-shipping. Almost his first reminiscence was of a visit in which, when he was seven or eight years old, he accompanied his father to Birmingham, there to meet with James Watt, and hear something of his memorable discovery. Apprehending in his youth the value of that discovery, he never wearied in his efforts to extend its usefulness. The Rising Star, built in 1818 under his directions, and those of his brother, Major Cochrane, for service in Chili, was the first steam-vessel that crossed the Atlantic, and it was an additional disappointment to him, amid all the misfortunes incident to his efforts to give adequate assistance to the Greeks in their war of independence, that the ill-fated steamers which were to be his chief instruments therein, failed through the indolence and incompetence of those to whom their construction was assigned.

It is not necessary here to detail the studies and experiments by which he afterwards sought to introduce a better steam-engine, for locomotive purposes, than was then, or is even now, in general use. His plan—not a new one, though it had never before been made available in practice—was to substitute for the ordinary reciprocating engine a machine which should at once produce a circular motion. "Of the many rotary engines heretofore offered to the notice of the world," he wrote, in 1833, "none have stood the test of practical use and experience. The cause of this uniform failure has been the great difficulty of obtaining, within the machine, a base of resistance on which the steam might act in propelling the moveable piston." He did not quite overcome this difficulty, but he succeeded in producing what the foremost critic in this department of manufacture describes—after a lapse of thirty years unrivalled for their development of ingenuity—as "the most perfect engine of the class that has yet been projected."

"In this engine," says the same authority, "an eccentric is made to revolve on an axis in the manner of a piston, and two doors, forming part of the side of the cylinder, press upon the eccentric. The points of these doors are armed with swivelling brasses, which apply themselves to the eccentric and make the point of contact tight in all positions."[16]

[16] John Bourne. "A Treatise on the Steam-Engine" (1861), p. 392.

"This revolving engine," said Lord Dundonald, "does not require any valve or slide; consequently, there is no waste of steam thereby; neither is there any loss, as in the space left at the top and bottom of the cylinders of reciprocating engines. There is much less friction than arises from the sum of all the bearings required to convert the rectilineal force of the common engine to circular motion. There are no beams, cranks, side-rods, connecting-rods, parallel motions, levers, slide-valves, or eccentrics, with their nicely-adjusted joints and bearings; and thus the revolving engine is not liable, even in one-tenth degree, to the accidents and hindrances of other engines. As its moving parts pursue their course in perfect circles, without stop or hindrance, it is capable of progressive acceleration, until the work performed equals the pressure of steam on the vacuum—an advantage which the reciprocating engine does not possess. The diminished bulk and weight, and the absence of tremor, add to the capacity, buoyancy, velocity, and durability of vessels in which it is placed." The rotary engine did not satisfy all Lord Dundonald's expectations, but it took precedence of all others of the same sort, and was of great service at any rate in directing attention to what he rightly considered to be the great want in war-shipping, namely, vessels of the least possible bulk and of the greatest possible strength, speed, and fighting power.

Years were spent by him in attempting to bring it into notice. At his own cost he fitted out a little steamboat, which navigated the Thames; but to perfect the invention were required more funds than he had at his command, and he sought in vain for adequate assistance from others.

In January, 1834, he wrote to Sir James Graham, then First Lord of the Admiralty, thanking him for his share in the restitution of his naval rank that had occurred nearly two years before, and urging the co-operation of the Government in perfecting an invention that promised to be of so much importance to the naval power of England. "You are not obliged to me for anything," answered Sir James on the 15th; "I only am fortunate in being the member of a Government which has regained for our country the benefit of your distinguished valour and services, which, if again required in war, will, I am persuaded, be so exerted as to win the gratitude of the nation, and to demonstrate the justice of the decision to which you allude. It is impossible to over-estimate the paramount importance of steam in future naval operations; and it is fortunate that you have directed so much of your attention to the subject. The Board has complied with your request, and two engineers, in whom we place reliance, will be ordered to attend you." It does not appear, how-ever, that the engineers did attend. At any rate, nothing was done by the Admiralty in aid of the invention either then or for many years after.

Yet its ingenuity was acknowledged by all who investigated it, and by naval authorities among the number. The Earl of Minto, when First Lord of the Admiralty, sought to introduce it into the national ship-building; but official hindrances, too great even for him to overcome, stood in his way. All he could do was to have it referred to competent judges and to receive their report in its favour. "I am commanded to acquaint your lordship," wrote Sir John Barrow, the Secretary to the Admiralty, to the Earl of Dundonald, on the 20th of December, 1839, "that the opinions received of your revolving engine are favourable to the principle, and that it has not been stated that there are any insurmountable obstacles to its practical execution." The insurmountable obstacles were in the stolid resistance of subordinates to any novelty designed to lessen labour and promote economy.

Lord Minto, when out of office, was able to speak of the engine in more approving terms than he could adopt in his official capacity. "I need hardly say," he wrote on the 6th of September, 1842, "that the report of continued success in your rotatory engine gives me great pleasure, not only upon your own account, but as promising a valuable addition to our naval power in its application to ships of war. As a high-pressure engine, the complete success of your plan has, I believe, been recognised by all who have attended to it, and it is in this form that I had contemplated its application in the first instance as an auxiliary and occasional power in some ships of war."

At length, though not with all the energy that he desired, Lord Dundonald's engine was put to the test by the Admiralty during the Earl of Haddington's tenure of office in that department. In May, 1842, he was invited by the new First Lord, who, in common with all the world, was aware of the zeal and intelligence with which he had devoted himself to the consideration of every branch of naval science, to communicate his opinions thereupon. The first result of this invitation was a letter showing remarkable discernment of evils then existing, and curiously anticipating some later efforts to correct them.

"The slow progress," wrote Lord Dundonald, on the 7th of June, "which the naval service has made towards its present ameliorated state—yet far from perfection—has not permitted any one Board of Admiralty in my time to stand pre-eminently distinguished for decisive improvements. These have rather been effected by the gradual changes which time occasions, or by following the example of America, or even of France, than by encouraging efforts of native genius. This has arisen from causes easily remedied; one of which is, that the rejection or adoption of proffered improvements has depended on the decision of several authorities, who consequently feel little individual responsibility, and imagine themselves liable to censure only for a change of system. Thus, my lord, a still heavier responsibility has, in fact, been incurred by continuing, long after the most superficial observation demanded a change, to construct small ships of the line, and little frigates, which the great practical skill and bravery of our countrymen were taxed to defend against the powerful eighty-gun ships of France and the large frigates of America. This timidity as to change caused many years to elapse, after the commercial use of steam-vessels, before the naval department possessed even a tug-boat. Hence the mischievous economy manifested by the purchase of worthless merchant steamers; hence the subsequent parsimonious project of building small steam-vessels fitted with engines immersed beyond their bearing, and deficient in every requisite for purposes of war. I am not one of those, my lord, who deem it advantageous to act on the belief that one Englishman can beat two Frenchmen. I am inclined to doubt whether a practical demonstration of that saying might not be attended with disastrous consequences. Long habitude reared experienced British officers, who are now replaced by others who possess less nautical skill, and are nearer on a par with those of France, in regard to whose education every pains has been taken by its Government. I do not presume to advise that your lordship should adopt changes precipitately, nor without consulting those who may be most competent to judge; no, nor even then that the best measures should be prematurely disclosed, so as to give intimation to other nations of the vast increase of power which may suddenly be rendered available. But I venture to suggest that you may quietly prepare the means of effecting purposes which neither the ordinary ships of war nor the present steam-ships in the navy can accomplish. Permanent blockades, my lord, are now quite out of the question; and so, in my opinion, are all our ordinary naval tactics. A couple of heavy line-of-battle ships, suddenly fitted, on the outbreak of war, with adequate steam-power, would decide the successful result of a general action; and I am assured that I could show your lordship how to fit a steam-ship which, in scouring the Channel or ranging the coast, could take or destroy every steam-ship belonging to France that came within view."

That offer was accepted by the Earl of Haddington, who, being at Portsmouth in August, made personal inspection of some experiments in which Lord Dundonald was there engaging; and the result of that inspection was that he promptly arranged for the introduction, at the public expense, of the rotary engine in the Firefly, a small steam-vessel which, like many others, the Government had bought and found useless, by reason of its clumsy machinery. In her, with no more than the usual delay occasioned by the co-operation of official routine with private enterprise, in which Lord Dundonald had the assistance of Mr. Renton and Messrs. Bramah, the experiment was tried and found to answer so well, in spite of the difficulties incident to a first attempt, that it was resolved to develop it further in a frigate to be built throughout in accordance with his plans for the improved construction of shipping.

To these he had lately made some valuable additions. On the 19th of January, 1843, a patent was granted to him for various improvements in engines and other machinery, one of which was an apparatus for propelling vessels. "This improved propeller," says a competent authority, "consists of an arrangement of propelling blades immerged beneath the water, in the manner now usual in screw vessels; but, instead of the blades being set at right angles with the propeller-shaft, they form an angle therewith. One important effect of this arrangement is that it corrects the centrifugal action of the screw; for whereas, in common screws, the water which is discharged backwards assumes a conical figure, enlarging as it recedes, in a screw formed on Lord Dundonald's plan the outline of the moving water will be cylindrical, the centrifugal action being counteracted by the convergent action due to the backward inclination of the propelling blades. It is found, practically, that screws constructed upon this principle give a better result than ordinary screws."[17]

[17] John Bourne. "A Treatise on the Screw Propeller, Screw Vessels, and Screw Engines" (1867), p. 42.

Another invention patented by Lord Dundonald at the same time was a modification of the boilers used for steam-engines. "These boilers," says the same critic, "are constructed with a double tier of furnaces and with upright tubes, the water being contained within the tubes and the smoke impinging upon them on its passage to the chimney. This species of boiler is found to be very efficient. A hanging bridge is introduced to retain the heat in the upper part of the flue in which the tubes are erected. By inserting a short piece of tube in the upper extremity of each tube within the boiler the upward circulation of the water within the tubes was increased as the length of the lighter column of water was augmented, while the length of the gravitating column remained without alteration."[18]

[18] John Bourne. "A Treatise on the Steam Engine" (1861), p. 233. These boilers, extensively used in London, America, and elsewhere, and now introduced in the Admiralty ship-building, have been greatly improved by Lord Dundonald's son, Captain the Hon. A. A. Cochrane, C.B.

"I believe," he said in a letter to Lord Haddington dated the 22nd of May, 1843, "that all our old vessels of war, save the class of eighty-gun ships and a few first-rate and large frigates, are almost worthless; whilst our steam department is deficient in most of the properties which constitute effective vessels. No blockades worthy of the name can now be maintained by fleets of sailing ships; nor can accompanying steamships be kept for months and years even in 'approximate readiness,' awaiting the distant night when it may suit the enemy to attack our blockading force or quietly to slip out in the dark in order to assail our commerce in other quarters. I have, my lord, during the last twelve years actually disbursed, to the great inconvenience of my family, upwards of 16,000l. to promote nautical objects which appeared to me of importance. Your lordship knows their nature, and it is in no way difficult to ascertain their reality. I consider that several, if not all our line-of-battle ships, should have the benefit of mechanical power, say to the extent of a hundred horses—the machinery to be placed out of the reach of shot. The construction of new ships on the best lines that could be found would prove more judicious than repairing old ones, however apparently cheap such repairs may be; for a few powerful and quick-sailing ships are preferable to a multitude which can neither successfully chase, nor escape from, an enemy."

That allusion to the "best lines" of ship-building, and some of Lord Dundonald's other views on naval architecture, will be explained by another letter written by him to Lord Haddington, three months before, on the 20th of February. "I have lately," he said, "submitted to the consideration of Sir George Cockburn an axiom for the uniform delineation of consecutive parabolic curves, forming a series of lines presenting the least resistance in the submerged portion of ships and vessels—an axiom never before so applied in naval architecture, as is manifest from the discrepant forms of our ships of war. I also offered to Sir George's attention a new propeller and method of adapting propellers to sailing ships in her Majesty's service, free from the disadvantages of paddle-wheels and from the injurious consequences of lessening the buoyancy and weakening the strength of the after part of ships by a prolongation of the 'dead wood,' and by cutting a large hole through it for the insertion of the Archimedean screw. The favourable impression made on the mind of Sir George, and my own deliberate conviction of the importance of these improvements, and of others then briefly touched on, lead me, by reason of the lamented indisposition of that talented officer, now personally, instead of through him, to offer them to your lordship's attention.

"The French, as your lordship is well aware, are making great exertions to advance their steam department, especially in the Mediterranean, where calms are frequent and their coal is abundant—doubtless in the hope of thereby preventing the future blockade of Toulon, and of keeping open their intercourse with Algiers; which would be equivalent to possessing the dominion of the Mediterranean Sea, where a British blockading fleet of sailing ships must, under such circumstances, themselves be protected. In saying this, my lord, I beg to be understood as by no means depreciating the capabilities of our common ships of war, whilst they possess the power of motion, but as holding them to be quite unfit for blockades, and exposed to great peril where calms are of frequent occurrence and long duration. Indeed, it may be worthy of your lordship's serious consideration whether, in another point of view, it might not be judicious to place steam-engines in some, at least, of our line-of-battle ships, in order to divert the attention of foreign nations from the exclusive employment of mechanical propelling power to purposes of naval war, whereby British officers and seamen, deprived of the means of displaying their superior skill, become reduced to a par with the trained bands of Continental states.

"I have prepared a model in bronze of a steam-frigate possessing peculiar properties, founded on the before-mentioned axiom, which, I do not hesitate to submit to your lordship, would save vast sums wasted in the construction of inferior ships and vessels, by enabling the Admiralty, on unerring data, to stereotype—if I may use the expression—every curve in every rate or class of ships, and so impose on constructors the undeviating task of adhering to the lines and models scientifically determined on by their lordships."[19]

[19] The following statement of Lord Dundonald's "axiom" accompanied the model which was submitted to the Admiralty:—"It is universally admitted that a sharp bow and a clear run contribute to the speed of vessels; but what the consecutive lines ought to be, in order to constitute a perfect bow, or what those to form the run, no builder has yet exemplified by uniformity of practice, or theoretically defined. Ship-delineators profess the art as a mystery, and arbitrary forms are assumed as the result of science. These lines ought to be, by an axiom, founded on a law imposed by Infinite Wisdom for the perfect guidance of inanimate matter. Projectiles, thrown obliquely, take their flight in convex parabolic curves, wherein resistance is overcome by a minimum of force; and elastic surfaces obey the converse of that law in opposing certain external influences. It is a property of conic sections that a straight line, centred in the apex, and caused to circumscribe the surface of the cone, will apply itself continuously to all consecutive parabolic curves. Hence curves similar to the flight of projectiles, and to those formed by the flection of elastic surfaces, may be described on a large scale simply by causing a straight line or beam to revolve as on the axis of a cone, in contact with a parabolic or elliptical section. Thus a consecutive series of convex parabolic or elliptical curves may be substituted in ship-building for hollow fantastical lines. The benefits from which application are, increased velocity, capacity, strength, buoyancy, facility of steering, ease in hard seas, and exemption from breaking or 'hogging.'" Diagrams and explanations thereof accompanied this concise statement of the principle.

Great interest attended the development of Lord Dundonald's inventions. "I need hardly assure you," wrote Lord Minto, on the 4th of October, "of the very great satisfaction I derive from the continued and increasing success of your rotatory engine; and I shall now look with no little impatience for further evidence of its merits in the new steam-frigate to which it is to be applied. I am glad, also, that you have turned your attention to the construction of steamers of war. I have never been satisfied with the properties of these vessels, much as their construction has undoubtedly been improved of late years. It is certainly a difficult subject, because some of the qualities essential to a vessel under sail can only be obtained by some deviation from the form calculated to give the greatest speed under steam; and I consider fair sailing powers, so as under all circumstances to keep company with a fleet, as not less important than speed and power as a steamer. The best combination of these very different qualities, or that which will upon the whole produce the most serviceable ship, is yet to be sought. I think, also, that sufficient consideration has not yet been given to the correction of that very grievous defect, the great uneasiness and excessive rolling of all these vessels, from the low position of the weights they carry. There is another object in connection with your engine which I had constantly in view: I mean its adaptation in the high-pressure form to our ships of war in general. It was my intention, had I remained in office, to have fitted a frigate with one of your high-pressure engines—not very high, however—with a view, if the experiment answered, to the introduction of an occasional steam power in all ships of the line. I believe you and I may probably differ as to the amount of steam power it might be advisable to give such ships, and that you would wish to steam the Vanguard or the Queen at the rate of ten miles an hour. My wishes are much more humble, and I should be perfectly satisfied with an amount of power sufficient to give steerage way under all circumstances, to carry the ship into or out of action, and to afford her some assistance in clearing off a lee-shore—something about equivalent to five knots—an amount of power that might probably be obtained, together with some fuel for occasional use, without encroaching too much upon the stowage of the ship. I shall be extremely glad if you can induce Lord Haddington to direct his attention to this object."

Through the latter part of 1843 and the whole of 1844, Lord Dundonald was chiefly occupied with the construction of the Janus, the steam-frigate which was being built and fitted upon his plans. She was shaped in accordance with his "lines," and in her were introduced both his revolving engines and his improved boilers. "I have just returned from Chatham," he wrote to a friend on the 6th of April, 1844, "where everything regarding the Janus is going on very well indeed. And I have further good news to tell you. The Admiralty are so pleased with my parabolic lines for ship-building that they have ordered a drawing to be made immediately of a frigate of the first class, in order to have one constructed." Hopeful that at last his long-cherished ideas would bring benefit both to himself and to the nation, he had in these months much to encourage him. "All is going on as well as I could wish, or even as I could accomplish, were destiny at my command," he wrote on the 31st of May. "The Portsmouth engines now meet the approbation of all the authorities of the yard, and the Admiralty are so satisfied that they have given me the building of a steamship to put them in, in lieu of placing them in the old Firefly." "Nothing," he said in a letter written a week or two later, "can exceed the perfection of the work which the Bramahs have put into the Janus's engines." "The experimental engine at Portsmouth," he wrote on the 3rd of July, "continues to perform admirably, beating all others in the yard in point of vacuum, which, you know, is the test of power." "The engines will commence being put together in ten or fourteen days," we read in another letter dated the 10th of July; "after that we shall make rapid progress. The Janus is now completing—that is, being coppered—and having the part of her deck laid down which was left off for the purpose of getting the boilers on board. My patent boilers will be tried by authority of the Admiralty about the 20th, and I hope for a favourable result." The trial, postponed till the 1st of August, was satisfactory. "We have tried the boilers of the Janus," he wrote on that day, "and the result is most triumphant, having, with slack firing, ten and a half pounds of water evaporated by each pound of coal." "I have just returned from Portsmouth," he had written five days before, "where I had the pleasure to find my engine exceeding even all that it had done before—the vacuum, with all the work on, being 28-1/2, two inches above that of any other engine in the dockyard. Mr. Taplin, the chief engineer, is quite delighted with it." "Sir George Cockburn and Sir John Barrow, permanent Secretary of the Admiralty, saw my engine yesterday," he wrote on the 24th of October, concerning the machine being built by the Bramahs for the Janus; "and so did Lord Brougham; all of whom were well pleased with my explanation of its principles and the appearance of the workmanship. It is now being pulled to pieces, in order to its being sent to Chatham and set up on board the Janus, whose boilers, by my request, are again to be officially tested as to their evaporative power, and that, too, by the Woolwich authorities, whose boilers have been beaten one-third by the evaporation of mine. This request must show the Admiralty my confidence in the correctness of the former trial; for there is no doubt the Woolwich people would condemn it if they could." This second and crucial trial took place on the 9th of November, and the result exceeded alike Lord Dundonald's expectations and those of the official judges, to whom failure would have been most pleasant. "All matters as regards my engines," he wrote on the 20th of November, "are going on well. I hope soon to hear something satisfactory from the Admiralty on the subject of the boilers, respecting which they have until now pursued the most profound silence, notwithstanding the triumphant result, which has surpassed the product of the far-famed Cornish boilers in evaporative power."

Those extracts from Lord Dundonald's letters to the friend with whom he corresponded most freely will suffice to show in what temper he watched the progress of his inventions during 1844. At the close of the year he hoped that his labours to bring them into general use were now nearly at an end; but in this he was disappointed. The Woolwich authorities, who had at the time expressed their approval of the boilers, sent in an adverse report to the Admiralty, and Lord Dundonald had to wait several months before he could disprove the statements made against them; and opposition of the same sort—the common experience of nearly every inventor—encountered him at every turn, and had again and again to be overcome. His Portsmouth engine continued to work well; but in September, 1845, he learnt that a malicious trick had been resorted to, to prevent its working better. "On a recent examination of the pumps in the well," wrote Mr. Taplin, the engineer, "to our utter astonishment we found, in the middle suction pipe, an elm plug, driven in so tight that we were obliged to bore and cut it out. The plug stopped that suction pipe effectually, and from its appearance must have been there from the time the pumps were first put in motion. As proof of this, we never had such a supply of water as at present." And that is only an illustration of the obstacles, accidental or designed, that occurred to him.

By them, the Janus was delayed for a whole year. She was to have been completed in 1844; but this was not done till the end of 1845. "I have just returned," Lord Dundonald was able to write on the 24th of December, "from a nine days' trip in the Janus, the result of which has been successful, both in regard to the properties of the engines and those of the 'lines' on which she has been constructed. Nothing can exceed the beauty of her passage through the water, without even a ripple, far less the wave which ordinary steamboats occasion." That success, however, was to be followed by a long series of disasters. The weight of the Janus had been miscalculated, and though she could proceed admirably in smooth water, she was found to lie so low that there was constant danger of her being wrecked in rough seas and bad weather. Other faults, incident to the bringing together for the first time of so much new workmanship, were also discovered. She had to be returned to dock, and fresh hindrances of every sort occurred during the two following years; each hindrance being attended by tedious correspondence or controversies with petty functionaries jealous of a stranger's interference, and only eager to bring discredit upon his work. Much discredit did result. Loud complaints were made concerning the waste of public money resulting from Lord Dundonald's experiments, and on him, of course, nearly all the blame was thrown. All this, added to his previous difficulties in securing for his boiler and engine any notice at all, was very grievous to him. Every complaint and every entreaty from him was met by a new excuse and a new reason for delay. "Ten days are always added," he said, in one letter, "and ten days yet are said to be required."

The days became weeks and the weeks months, and still the Janus was incomplete. She was unfinished when Lord Dundonald left England for more than two years in order to fulfil the duties assigned to him as commander-in-chief of the North American and West Indian squadron, and his absence caused a final abandonment of the works.

The tedious process of her construction, however, to which only sufficient reference has here been made to serve as illustration of one phase of Lord Dundonald's life, was attended by many good results. To himself she brought only trouble and expense; but the obstacles thrown in her way and in his did not deter private adventurers from acting upon some of the principles developed in abortive attempts at her completion by public functionaries. Lord Dundonald's inventions—his revolving engine, his screw-propeller, his boiler, and his "lines of ship-building,"—have all proved useful in themselves, and have been of yet greater use in their influence upon the improved mechanism of our own generation.

To him must be attributed no slight share in the revolution that has been effected in the materials for naval warfare. Of the superiority of steamers to war-ships, he was one of the first advocates. His own rotatory engine was never extensively adopted, and was superseded by other engines which, lacking the great merit of direct action upon the paddles, that it was his object to attain, had other and greater merits of their own; but in their adoption his great object was realized, seeing that that object was not his own aggrandisement, but the development of the naval strength of England.




Zealously as the Earl of Dundonald strove through nearly twenty years to perfect and to make generally useful his inventions in connection with steam shipping, he attached yet greater importance to another and an older invention or discovery, which, though its efficacy has been admitted by all to whom it has been explained, has never yet been adopted. This was the device known as his "secret war-plans," for capturing the fleets and forts of an enemy by an altogether novel process, attended by little cost or risk to the assailant, but of terrible effect upon the objects attacked.

These plans were conceived by him in 1811, and in the following year, as he has told in his "Autobiography," he submitted them to the Prince Regent, afterwards King George IV. By the Prince they were referred to a Secret Committee, consisting of the Duke of York, as President, Lord Keith, Lord Exmouth, and the two Congreves; who, on the details being set before them, declared this method of attack to be infallible and irresistible. Lord Dundonald was pledged to secrecy by the Prince Regent, and it was proposed to employ the device in the war still proceeding with France. That proposal, however, was abandoned, and another, for a trial of the plan under Sir Alexander Cochrane in North America, in 1814, was prevented by the Stock Exchange trial. After that, the long peace enjoyed by England would have postponed the experiment, even if Lord Dundonald had not been debarred from pursuit of his calling as an English naval officer. He might have used his secret in Chili, Brazil, and Greece; but his promise to the Prince Regent, and patriotic feelings, that were even more cogent than that promise, restrained him. Once used, it would cease to be a secret; and he resolved that the great advantage that would accrue from the first use should be reserved for his own country.

The project, however, was not forgotten by him. Soon after the accession of King William IV., he explained it to his Majesty, who acknowledged its value, and paid a tribute to Lord Dundonald's honourable conduct in keeping his secret so long and under such strong inducements to an opposite course. Soon afterwards, and during many years, the prospect of another war induced him to engage in frequent correspondence on the subject with various members of the successive Governments.

"I long ago," wrote the Marquis of Lansdowne—then President of the Council—in May, 1834, "communicated the substance of the paper you left with me, on the important objects which might be accomplished by the agency you describe, in an attack upon an hostile marine, to such of my colleagues as I then had an opportunity of seeing, and more particularly to Lord Minto, whom I found in some degree apprized of your views upon this subject. As questions of such importance to the naval interests of the country can only be satisfactorily inquired into by the Admiralty Department of the Government, I should recommend your entering into an unreserved communication with him on the subject, which I know he will receive with all the attention due to your high professional character and experience."

The Earl of Minto gave many proofs of his regard for Lord Dundonald; but he was not disposed to think favourably of the secret war-plan, and it was kept in abeyance for four years more. In the autumn of 1838 Lord Dundonald again pressed its consideration upon Lord Lansdowne, alleging as a reason the warlike attitude of Russia. "I am obliged to you for your letter," wrote Lord Lansdowne in reply, on the 5th of November, "and will certainly make use of the communication it contains in the proper quarter, if the occasion arises, which I sincerely hope it will not. Ambitious and encroaching as Russia is seen and felt to be in all directions, I am confident that her own true policy is to avoid giving just cause for war, and that, busily as she may use all indirect means towards her ends which she thinks she can justify, she will yield to remonstrance when these limits are transgressed by her agents. This is a course, however, which requires to be, and I trust will be, most carefully watched."

In that interesting letter, Lord Lansdowne showed, by his silence, that he was not inclined to investigate the war-plan; and a like indifference was experienced by Lord Dundonald in his repeated efforts, during the ensuing years, to secure its acceptance by the Government. It was submitted to a favoured few, and all to whom it was explained acknowledged its efficacy; but no more than that was done. Its most competent critic was the Duke of Wellington, who recognised the terrible power of the device, although he objected to it on the score that "two could play at that game." "If the people of France shall force their Government to war with England," wrote Lord Dundonald to Lord Minto on the 3rd of August, 1840, "I hope you will do me the favour and justice to reflect on the nature of the opinion you received from the Duke of Wellington in regard to my plans, which is the same as that given to the Prince Regent by Lords Keith and Exmouth and the two Congreves in the year 1811, and that your lordship will perceive, that 'although two can play at the game,' the one who first understands it can alone be successful. In the event of war, I beg to offer my endeavours to place the navy of France under your control, or at once effectually to annihilate it. Were my plans known to the world, I should not be accused of over-rating their powers by the above otherwise extraordinary assertion." Lord Minto's answer was very brief: "I shall bear your offer in mind; but there is not the slightest chance of war."

For the same reason the secret plans were set aside by the Earl of Haddington, who was First Lord of the Admiralty after Lord Minto. He rendered considerable aid to Lord Dundonald in testing his steam-engine and boiler, but considered the fact that England was at peace as a sufficient reason for not discussing the value of a new instrument of war.

Lord Dundonald, however, who knew the value of his invention, thought otherwise. While vast sums of money were being spent at Dover, Portsmouth, and elsewhere upon fortifications and harbours of refuge for trading-vessels, which, in war time, could have no chance of safety against fighting steam ships in the open sea, he deemed it especially important that attention should be paid to a project calculated to effect an entire revolution in the principles and methods of warfare. If his project was feasible, it furnished an instrument by which fortifications and harbours of refuge would be rendered useless, seeing that the most powerful enemy might by it be effectually prevented from coming within reach of those defences, or, if he was allowed to approach them, could use it with a terrible effect, to which the most formidable defences could offer no resistance. It was under this impression that, on the 29th of November, 1845, finding Governments indifferent to his arguments, he addressed a vigorous letter to "The Times."

"Had gunpowder and its adaptation to artillery," he there said, "been discovered and perfected by an individual, and had its wonderful power been privately tested, indisputably proved, and reported to a Government, or to a council of military men, at the period when the battering-ram and cross-bow were chief implements in war, it is probable that the civilians would have treated the author as a wild visionary, and that the professional council, true to the esprit de corps, would have spurned the supposed insult to their superior understanding. Science and the arts, both of peace and war, nevertheless, in despite of all such retarding causes, have advanced, and probably will advance, until effects and consequences accrue which the imagination can scarcely contemplate.

"It is not, however, my intention to intrude observations of an ordinary nature, but to endeavour to rectify an erroneous opinion which appears to prevail, that consequences disastrous to this country may be anticipated from the introduction of steam-ships into maritime warfare. I am desirous of showing that the use of steam-ships of war, though at present available by rival nations, need not necessarily diminish the security of our commerce; that still less need it necessarily endanger our national existence, which appears to be apprehended by those who allege the necessity of devoting millions of money to the defence of our coasts. I contend that there is nothing in the expected new system of naval warfare, through the employment of steam-vessels, that can justify such expensive and derogatory precautions, because there are equally new, and yet secret, means of conquest, which no devices hitherto used in maritime warfare could resist or evade.

"That the like prejudice or incredulity which in all probability would have scouted the invention of gunpowder, if offered to notice under the circumstances above supposed, may exist to a considerable extent in the present case, is extremely likely; yet I do not the less advisedly affirm, that with this all-powerful auxiliary invasion may be rendered impossible, and our commerce secure, by the speedy and effectual destruction of all assemblages of steam-ships, and, if necessary, of all the navies of the whole world, which, for ever after, might be prevented from inconveniently increasing. Away then with the sinister forebodings which have originated the recent devices for protruding through the sterns of sluggish ships of war additional guns for defence in fight! Away with the projected plans of 'protective forts and ports' of cowardly refuge! Let the manly resolution be taken, when occasion shall require, vigorously to attack the enemy, instead of preparing elaborate means of defence. Factitious ports on the margin of the Channel cannot be better protected than those which exist, respecting which I pledge any professional credit I may possess, that whatever hostile force might therein be assembled could be destroyed within the first twenty-four hours favourable for effective operations, in defiance of forts and batteries, mounted with the most powerful ordnance now in use.

"In the capacity of an officer all hope seemed to be precluded, that in time of peace I could render service to my country. A new light, however, has beamed through the cloud, for in the pursuit of my vocation as an amateur engineer it has become apparent that a plan, which I deemed available only in war, may contribute to prevent the naval department from being paralysed by wasteful perversion of its legitimate support. Protective harbours (save as screens from wind and sea) may be likened to nets wherein fishes, seeking to escape, find themselves inextricably entangled; or to the guardian care of a shepherd, who should pen his flock in a fold to secure it from a marching army. No effective protection could be afforded in such ports against a superior naval force equipped for purposes of destruction; whilst their utility as places of refuge from steam privateers is quite disproportioned to their cost—privateers could neither tow off merchant vessels from our shore, nor regain their own, if appropriate measures shall be adopted to intercept them.

"Impressions in favour of so expensive, so despondent, and so inadequate a scheme, can have no better origin than specious reports, emanating from delusive opinions derived from a very limited knowledge of facts. The hasty adoption of such measures, and the voting away the vast sums required to carry them into execution, are evils seriously to be deprecated. It is, therefore, greatly to be desired that those in power should pause before proceeding further in such a course. It behoves them to consider in all its bearings, and in all its consequences, the contemplated system of stationary maritime defence, subject, as that system may become, to the overwhelming influence of the secret plan which I placed in their hands, similar to that which I presented in 1812 to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, who referred its consideration confidentially to Lord Keith, Lord Exmouth, and the two Congreves, professional and scientific men, by whom it was pronounced to be infallible, under the circumstances detailed in my explanatory statement.

"Thirty-three years is a long time to retain an important secret, especially as I could have used it with effect in defence of my character when cruelly assailed (as I have shown at length in a representation to the Government), and could have practically employed it on various occasions to my private advantage. I have now, however, determined to solicit its well-merited consideration, in the hope, privately, if possible, to prove the comparative inexpedience of an expenditure of some 12,000,000l. or 20,000,000l. sterling for the construction of forts and harbours, instead of applying ample funds at once to remodel and renovate the navy—professionally known to be susceptible of immense improvement—including the removal from its swollen bulk of much that is cumbrous and prejudicial.

"However injudicious it might be thought to divulge my plan, at least until energetically put in execution for an adequate object; yet, if its disclosure is indispensable to enable a just and general estimate to be formed of the merits of the mongrel terraqueous scheme of defence now in contemplation, as compared with the mighty power and protective ubiquity of the floating bulwarks of Britain, I am satisfied that the balance would be greatly in favour of publicity. It would demonstrate that there could be no security in those defences and those asylums, on the construction of which it is proposed to expend so many millions of the public money; it might, therefore, have the effect of preventing such useless expenditure, and of averting the obviously impending danger of future parsimonious naval administration, abandonment of essential measures of nautical improvement, and the national disgrace of maritime degradation—all inseparable from an unnatural hermaphrodite union between a distinguished service, which might still further be immeasurably exalted, and the most extravagant, derogatory, inefficient, and preposterous project that could be devised for the security and protection of an insular, widely-extended, colonial and commercial State."

A few months after that letter had been written, Lord Dundonald's hopes that his secret plans would be accepted by the Government were revived. In 1846, his friend Lord Auckland took office as First Lord of the Admiralty; and by him, with very little delay, it was proposed to submit the plans to the judgment of a competent committee of officers. This was all that Lord Dundonald had asked for, and he gladly accepted the proposal. The officers chosen were Sir Thomas Hastings, then Surveyor General of the Ordnance, Sir J. F. Burgoyne, and Lieutenant-Colonel J. S. Colquhoun. By them the project was carefully considered, and on the 16th of January, 1847, they tendered their official report upon it. "These plans," it was there said, "may be classed under three heads:—1st. One, on which an opinion may be formed with experiment, for concealing or masking offensive warlike operations; and we consider that, under many particular circumstances, the method of his lordship may be made available as well by land as by sea, and we therefore suggest that a record of this part of Lord Dundonald's plans should be deposited with the Admiralty, to be made use of when, in the judgment of their lordships, the opportunity for employing it may occur. 2nd. One, on which experiments would be required before a satisfactory conclusion could be arrived at. 3rd. Nos. 1 and 2 combined for the purpose of hostile operations. After mature consideration, we have resolved that it is not desirable that any experiment should be made. We assume it to be possible that the plan No. 2 contains power for producing the sweeping destruction the inventor ascribes to it; but it is clear this power could not be retained exclusively by this country, because its first employment would develop both its principle and application. We considered, in the next place, how far the adoption of the proposed secret plans would accord with the feelings and principles of civilized warfare. We are of unanimous opinion that plans Nos. 2 and 3 would not be so. We therefore recommend that, as hitherto, plans Nos. 2 and 3 should remain concealed. We feel that great credit is due to Lord Dundonald for the right feeling which prompted him not to disclose his secret plans, when serving in war as naval commander-in-chief of the forces of other nations, and under many trying circumstances, in the conviction that these plans might eventually be of the highest importance to his own country."

That report was, in the main, highly gratifying to Lord Dundonald. It recognized the efficacy of his plans, and recommended their partial use, at any rate, in time of need. "Permit me to express, as far as I am able," he wrote to Lord Auckland on the 27th of January, "my deep sense of obligation to your lordship in causing my plans of war to be thoroughly investigated by the most competent authorities, and for the extremely kind terms in which you have informed me of the satisfactory result. With regard to their disposal, I submit that it would be advisable to retain them inviolate until a period shall arrive when the use of them may be deemed beneficial to the interests of the country, I have to observe, as to the opinions of the commission, that plans Nos. 2 and 3 would not accord with the principles and feeling of civilized warfare, that the new method resorted to by the French, of firing horizontal shells and carcases, is stated by a commission of scientific and practical men appointed by the French Government to ascertain their effects, to be so formidable that 'it would render impossible the success of any enterprise attempted against their vessels in harbour,' and that, 'for the defence of roadsteads, or for the attack of line-of-battle ships, becalmed or embayed, its effect would be infallible,'—namely, by blowing up or burning our ships, to the probable destruction of the lives of all their crews. I submit that, against such batteries as these, the adoption of my plans Nos. 2 and 3 would be perfectly justifiable."

That the French, not yet forgetful of the injuries inflicted on them in the last great war, and in the frequent wars of previous centuries, were still hoping and planning for an opportunity of retaliation, and that their plans needed to be carefully watched and counteracted, were convictions strongly impressed upon Lord Dundonald in these years; and in 1848 he had a singular verification of them. "I enclose a paper of some consequence," wrote Lord Auckland to him on the 30th of June. "It contains the plan which, in contemplation of war, has been submitted to the French Provisional Government for naval operations. It is, perhaps, little more than the pamphlet of the Prince de Joinville, carried out methodically and in detail, and the writer seems to me to anticipate a far more exclusive playing of the game only on one side than we should allow to be the case; but, nevertheless, such a mode of warfare would be embarrassing and mischievous, and I should like to have from you your views of a counter project to it, and your criticisms upon it."

The report here forwarded to Lord Dundonald by Lord Auckland, entitled "La Puissance Maritime de la France," and designed to show that "une guerre maritime est plus a redouter pour l'Angleterre que pour la France," besides affording curious confirmation of Lord Dundonald's opinions, is a document very memorable in itself. Its main idea was that in naval warfare victory is to be obtained, not by mere numbers, but by superiority in ships and guns. "In the present condition of our marine," said its author, "we must give up fleet-fighting. The English can arm more fleets than we can, and we cannot maintain a war of fleets with England without exposing ourselves to losses as great as those we experienced under the First Empire. Though during twenty years, however, our warfare, as carried on by fleets, was disastrous, that of our cruisers was nearly always successful. By again sending these forth, with instructions not to compromise themselves with an enemy superior to them in numbers, we shall inflict great loss on English commerce. To attack that commerce is to attack the vital principle of England—to strike her to the heart."

That was the view advanced under Louis Philippe's reign by the Prince de Joinville; but it was much more elaborately worked out by the advocate of naval energy in days immediately preceding Prince Louis Napoleon's accession to power. "What I propose," he said, "is a war founded on this principle of striking at English commerce. In a naval war between two nations, one of which has a very large commerce, and the other very little, military forces are of small consequence. In the end, peace must become a necessity to the power which has much to lose and little to gain. Let us see what took place in America during the disputes on the Oregon question. Despite the immense superiority of the English navy, the Americans maintained their pretensions. England found out that their well-equipped frigates and countless privateers were sufficient to carry on a war against her commerce in all parts of the globe; whilst all the damage she could do to America was the destruction of a few coast-towns, by which she could gain neither honour nor profit; and so she decided to preserve peace by yielding the question. It is this American system that we in France must adopt. Renouncing the glory of fleet victories, we must make active war on the commercial shipping of Great Britain. If America with her small means could gain such an advantage over England, what results may we not expect to obtain with a hundred and fifty ships of war and three hundred corsairs armed with long-range guns?"

The report recommended that the naval force of France should be organized in twenty "corsair-divisions." These were to have Cherbourg for their head-quarters; one to look after the merchant-shipping in the British Channel; another to watch the mouth of the Thames; and a third to cruise along the Dutch and German coasts, so as to intercept our Baltic trade; and all these were to be aided by a line of telegraphs from Brest to Dunkirk, in correspondence with a line of scouts ranged along the French coast, with orders to communicate to the central station at Cherbourg every movement of British merchantmen. Three similar divisions were to be formed at Brest, charged respectively with the oversight of the East and West Indian shipping as it passed Cape Clear, of the Azores, and of the Irish Coast. A seventh division, stationed at Rochefort, was to watch for a favourable opportunity of co-operating with the other six, if desirable, in transporting an army to Ireland. An eighth division was to watch the neighbourhood of Gibraltar, and four others were to be stationed in various parts of the Mediterranean. Three other divisions were to cruise along the North American coast, to harass our commerce with the United States, to intercept the trade of Canada and the neighbouring colonies, and, in spring time, to capture the produce of the Newfoundland fisheries. Three smaller divisions were to be charged with the annoyance of our West Indian Islands and the destruction of their commerce; and the remaining two were to scour the coasts of South America. A separate and formidable establishment of screw-frigates was to have for its head-quarters a port of refuge to be constructed in Madagascar, whence operations were to be directed in all quarters against our East Indian possessions and their extensive trade.

"In addition to these means," it was further said in the report, "the Departmental Councils should each arm one steam-frigate, commanded by an officer of the navy born in the department. The prizes captured by each should in this case be at the disposal of the Departmental Councils, a portion being devoted to defraying the expenses of the vessel, and the remainder applied to the execution of public works within the department." "As regards the defence of French ports, this may be best effected by flat-bottomed hulks, armed with long-range guns adapted to horizontal firing. The chances against invasion are greatly in favour of France, on account of the superiority of her land force, and the facility of transporting troops by railway to the locality attacked." "A great point will be the perfect training of the French squadron by annual evolutions, and with double or treble the requisite number of officers. If these suggestions are carried out, France will establish at sea what Russia has done on land, to the injury and restriction of British commerce, which must be seriously damaged, without material harm being done to ourselves. This loss of commerce will especially affect the working classes of England, and thus bring about a democratic inundation which will compel her to a speedy submission."

Those were the chief proposals of the secret memoir which, falling into the hands of the British Government, so far alarmed it as to lead it to call upon the Earl of Dundonald for his opinions as to the best way of meeting the threatened danger. "This document," he wrote in his reply to Lord Auckland, "describes a plan of maritime operations undoubtedly more injurious to the interests of England than that pursued by France in former wars. There is nothing new, however, in the opinions promulgated. They have long been familiar to British naval officers, whose wonder has been that the wide-spread colonial commerce of England has never yet been effectually assailed. It is true that the advice given in the memoir derives more importance now from the fact that the application of steam-power to a system of predatory warfare constitutes every harbour a port of naval equipment, requiring to be watched, not in the passive manner of former blockades, but effectively by steam-vessels having their fires kindled at least during the obscurity of night. The cost and number of such blockades need not be dwelt on, nor the indefinite period to which prudence on the part of the enemy, and vigilance on that of the blockading force, might prolong a war. One hundred millions sterling added to our national debt would solve a doubt whether the most successful depredation on British commerce could produce consequences more extensive and permanently injurious. The memoir obviously anticipates that 'l'usage des canons bombes, dont les atteintes ont un si prodigieux effet,' will prevent our blockading ships from approaching the shores of France, and that thus their steam-vessels might escape unobserved during night, even with sailing-vessels in tow. This is no vague conjecture, but a consequence which assuredly will follow any hesitation on our part to counteract the system extensively adopted, and now under the consideration of the National Assembly, of arming all batteries with projectiles, whereby to burn or blow up our ships of war—a fate which even the precaution of keeping out of range could not avert, by reason of the incendiary and explosive missiles whereby 'les petits bailments a vapeur pouront attaquer les plus gros vaisseaux.' It is impossible to retaliate by using similar weapons. Forts and batteries are incombustible. Recourse must therefore be had to other means, whereby to overcome fortifications protecting expeditionary forces and piratical equipments."

The means recommended by Lord Dundonald, it need hardly be said, were the secret war-plans which he had developed nearly forty years before, and the efficacy of which had recently been again admitted by the committee appointed to investigate them in 1846. It is not allowable, of course, to quote the paragraphs in which Lord Dundonald once more explained them and urged their adoption in case of need. The only objection offered to them was that they were too terrible for use by a civilized community. "These means," he replied, "all powerful, are nevertheless humane when contrasted with the use of shells and carcases by ships at sea, and most merciful, as competent to avert the bloodshed that would attend the contemplated 'descente en Angleterre ou en Ireland,' and other hostile schemes recommended in the memoir."

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