Hide Articles List

9 articles on this Page

--THE COTTBT,

j POLITICAL. GOSSIP.

THE ARTS, LITERATURE, &e.

THE FRENCH AND ENGLISH FLEETS…

News
Cite
Share

THE FRENCH AND ENGLISH FLEETS AT CHERBOURG. The programme of festivities connected with the visit of the English fleet to Cherbourg was brought to a close on Thursday. Of the French fleet little was to be seen, for the very excellent reason that there was not much of it there, the Magenta and the Solferino, which are to the French what the Achilles and the Warrior are to us, doing almost the entire duty of representing the French iron-clads. Visits of congratulation were exchanged between the officers cf the ships of the respective squadrons; the fleet was illuminated, though the display was by no means equal to that which was made when the Queen visited Cherbourg in 1859, and when, by the way, an Admiralty steamer arrived in full steam to announce to her Majesty the important faet of the successful laying of the Atlantic cable, and to bring to her the congratulatory message of the President on the too short-lived success of the great work. There were also games and sports of great variety for the visitors, and abundant objects of in- terest were afforded by the dockyards and naval establishments to those who availed themselves of the courteous facility granted for the occasion by the naval authorities of Cherbourg. Of the banquets, the most important was that given by M. le Marquis de Chasseloug-Laubat, Naval and Colonial Minister, to the Lords of the English Admiralty, and the chiefs of the squadron. It was limited to eighty covers, and followed by few and short speeches. There were, in fact, only four toasts, namely, "The Queen of Eng- land," "The Emperor of the French." "The Navy of England," and The Navv of J France." Some accidents have occurred to mar the general pleasure, and the upsetting of a 1 boat on Wednesday by an English excursion steamer left a disagreeable uncertainty about the number of persons who were thrown into the water afid got out again. It is reported that four lives were lost. The French iron-clads present, the Magenta and Solferino, 1 are the only two-decked armour-clads in the world. Unlike the small, narrow portholes in our armour- clads, the Magenta, in common with other French r ships, has the old wide, square openings in her side as large as ever, and these occur so close together, and in such numbers, as to quite realise the old American saying of a box of guns," as applied to their own over-gunned frigates. But in the truest sense of the word is the Magenta only a box of guns, inasmuch as only on a part of the broadside and along the water-line is she plated with 5-inch armour, six of what seem gun portholes on each side aft, -■ and four on each side forward, being only cabins, with neither guns nor armour. This, how- ever, it may be said is like the Warrior, which has "1 only her broadside plated with armour. But the Warrior has transverse bulkheads of armour plating, which protect her at stem and stern as well as on the broadside; while the Magenta is not only without these on her lower deck, but actually—and this is scarcely credible—without water-tight doors in the doorways made m her iiiw-a*tshiD bulk heads on the main deck. There are two smooth-bore pieces of the 1850 pattern, 50-pounder solid shot guns, mounted under her forecastle, to fire on each side of her stem when the bulkwarks are let down, as in the Achilles and Minotaur. All the masts are of wrought iron, and very light, giving a spread of canvas which would be invaluable to her when under sail. On the upper deck is a "rifle tower" of iron, formed by four belts of armour one above the other, and each about four feet high, making the whole structure rise to a height of nearly 14 feet from the <- deck. It is elliptical in form, and the plates are backed s Witn as rnuuli aoUdvfcy as behind tHe armnnr of the broadside-i. e., with about three feet of oak. On the c main deck of the ship are mounted twenty-four three- c grooved rifled breech-loading guns-twelve on each side. These pieces in their mode of rifling in no res- s peot differ from the French gun tried last year at s Shoeburyneas, and the powers of which, both in accu- s racy and penetration, were proved to be so inferior to „ either the Armstrong or Whitworth ordnance. The breeoh-loading apparatus is of the roughest and, appa- f rently, of the most inefficient kind. It consists merely i of a screw plug in the breech. A half-turn with a lever handle locks or unlocks it. When unlocked the screw f plug draws out from the rear of the gun on to a rest, both rest and plug being sufficiently clear of the v breech opening to allow of easy loading by the arm. The rest has a quarter-circle motion on a brass seating fixed on the right and a little below the chamber of the s piece. From the peculiar conformation of the raised screws, and the plug also, its fouling and jamming II during rapid firing would be a matter of almost abso- 1: lute certainty. This main deck battery of rifled guns t is protected at each end by a powerful athwartship armour-plated bulk-head, in which, however, there are literally open doors. On the lower deck, how- 1 ever, where, as being nearest the water-line, such c a protection is most urgently needed, strange to f say, there is nothing of the kind. This lower deck mounts 26 guns, 13 on a side-five of which, forward, -are rifled, and eight of which, aft, are the common smooth-bore of the old pattern of 1859. t The calibre of all in this battery appears to be 50- pounders, 81b. being the full powder charges used. s All told, therefore, the Magenta only mounts 52 guns. It is not too much to say that their united a discharge would be absolutely harmless against the f five-inch iron-plating and teak backing of our own s iron frigates. t The Grand Ball. c After all. the visiting was over on Thursday, the ■, festivities at Cherbourg were brought to a close by a ball at the Hotel de Ville. The night was not one that would be chosen on ordinary occasions for a ball to naval officers, for the weather was squally with 8 showers of rain, and the visitor in full uniform who has to undergo a two-miles' pull in an open r boat under such conditions has but small f chance of appearing to advantage. Buts never- theless, nearly everybody went. To an English a naval officer what is the worst of weather to the I best of balls to which he ia invited ? So the boats were passing all night long between the fleet and tke shore, the dim lights in which just sufficed to show the brilliant uniforms of the naval and military guests, and the gleam of the orders with which so ] many were decorated. Among the most ramarkable of c the celebrities who went from the Urgent was Dr. John t Urquhart, a gentleman who was assistant-surgeon at c the bombardment of Copenhagen, who was in the r action off the Bay of Cadiz, an assistant-surgeon at Trafalgar, a surgeon in 1810—just 55 years ago. This „ veteran wore the uniform which was the regulation more than half a century since—before the captains, ] or, indeed, most of the admirals, of the present day a were born. It is needlesa to say with what marked respect and deference the French officers received <; this relic of what we may almost call a past age. t The Hotel de Ville was brilliantly illuminated. It T consists of three fine saloons—the first the municipal i hall proper the second, built since Cherbourg has ex- s panded into its present importance, and called the Emperor's saloon; the third, named the Queen's, as having been used on the occasion of her Majesty's visit, and as containing a magnificent picture of that g event. All the halls and staircases leading to those 1 rooms were profusely decorated with banks of flowers, j mirrors, evergreens, and clastets of lights, while the saloons themselves were in keeping with their beauti- l fui approaches.- Everywhere were displayed splendid ) trophies of arms—stars, shields, and devices made up c of weapons only—pistols, swords, muskets, and bayo- I nets. Conspicuous for its merit, where all was good, ;c was a wonderful representation of the Imperial Eagle, t made entirely of bayonets and sabre-blades. It j I was difficult, even with the most careful examination, I to understand how so perfect an effigy of the king of birds could have been constructed out of such inflexi- j ble materials. Of course, nothing was done till the J Duke of Somerset and the Lords of the Admiralty I arrived, with Admiral Dacres, the Admiral of the j squadron, Lord de Grey and Ripon, lady Clarence I Paget, Lord and Lady Wilton, and a few other distin- I guished visitors from the yachts. From the thronged j state of the rooms, the whole entertainment partook j more of the nature of a stately conversazione than a j ball. The supper was on a profuse scale of hospitality, though certainly not more than half the visitors par- took of it, for most of the officers, English and French, were anxious to get on board early, not knowing a what hour the following day the fleet would sail. For- tunately the night was still and calm, and all wer enabled to reach their ships with an ease and speed that was almost luxurious as compared with the stormy passages of previous days.

A Bad Night of it.

A Seasonable Petition.

: ,THE ATLANTIC TELEGRAPH…

FRIGHTFUL MURDERS IN AMERICA.

OUR MISCELLANY.