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ROYAL AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY.

PARLIAMENTARY VISIT TO PORTSMOUTH.

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PARLIAMENTARY VISIT TO PORTSMOUTH. The Parliamentary visit to the naval dockyards and war vessels at Portsmouth on Monday was enjoyable, interesting, and instructive. It was initio ated and carried out by the patriotism an3 generosity of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford, M.P., to whom all the guests were profuse in their acknowledgments for the favourable opportunity he had afforded them of making themselves bettes acquainted with the paraphernalia and equipment of our first line of national defence. Nearly 300 members of the House of Commons, as well as several peers, attended, and it was noteworthy that they were by no means confined to one party, but fairly represented every section of the House. Not was the list of guests confined only to legislators and naval men. The military service was also repre- sented by several distinguished officers, including General Sir William Lockhart, who successfully led the recent advance on the Indian frontier, ana gallant general was accompanied by Sir William Nicholson, who was chief of his staff. The company left London at eight o'clock in the morning by special train, and after a two hours' run arrived at Portsmouth Dockyard. There, by per- mission of the Commander-in-Chief, naval officers were in attendance to act as guides, philosophers; and friends of the party. The first business of the day was a visit to those fine old two-decker frigates, the Vernon and Ariadne, which, perma- manently moored and coupled t«gether by a gang- way, are now jointly utilised as the chief torpedo school for the navy. Moving forward along the main deck of the Ariadne, the visitors saw seamen being instructed in telegraphy, after which, crossing the bridge to the lower deck of the Vernon, they entered the electric light shop, where armourers were under instruction in repairing dynamos and electric light fittings. In other rooms blackboard lectures were in progress to classes of young officers and seamen, who sat at their desks and made notes of points mentioned by their teachers. In their pro- gress through the vessel the company had the construction of the latest types of torpedoes ex- plained to them, together with the new gyroscope apparatus, which prevents deflection, and tends to make the torpedo run more straight when in the water. It was stated that each torpedo costs about £ 500. In one of the rooms men were seen taking torpedoes to pieces or putting together disjointed pieces of these mutilated terrors of the deep. In another room was what resembled an aquarium tank, in which the place of fish was taken by small models of submarine mines, electric, observational, and mechanical, which are used for the protec- tion of harbours and kindred purposes. The visitors were next shown outside in open water the mode of launching torpedoes, blowing up submarine mines, and laying lines of counter mines. An observation mine containing 1001b. of gunpowder was first fired, after which an electric contact mine was fired by a boat bumping a detached circuit closer. An outrigger torpedo was next exploded from a steam pinnance, and then a Whitehead torpedo was discharged close to the stem of the Vernon at a target up the creek. Its rapid course for about 800 yards under the surface of the water, propelled by compressed air, could be clearly traced by all observers. As the company had started early and breakfasted still earlier, they were now ready to do full justice to the bountiful luncheon which the hospitality of Lord Charles Beresford had provided in one of the large drafting rooms. Among those present were the Naval Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Sir Michael Culme Seymour, and Rear-Admiral Rice, the naval superintendent of the dockyard. After luncheon Lord Charles announced that there would be only one toast, viz., that of The Health of Her Majesty the Queen, which was of course loyally pledged. This done the company found a volunteer spokesman in Sir John R. Mowbray, the Father of the House of Commons, who cordially ex- pressed, amid applause, their indebtedness to their gallant hOst, whose return to Parliament had been generally welcomed. Lord Charles Beresford, in re- sponse, said his object in asking them to come to Portsmouth upon this occasion was to bring the great governing power of the nation into closer touch with the service to which he himself had the honour to belong. He added that many of the members present had never visited a warship or examined a big gun; indeed, it was even possible that some of them might not know the difference between the bow and stern of a vessel, or from which end a gun was fired off. The very existence of our great Empire depended upon the efficiency of the fleet, and it was, therefore, most important that the members of the House of Commons should be thus enabled to see for them- selves how the public money which they voted was spent. He desired to express his own obligations to the Naval Commander-in-Chief, the naval superin- tendent of the dockyard, and the other officers, for their kind co-operation in receiving so many guests and so clearly giving all the information they desIred. After luncheon two torpedo-boat destroyers were in readiness to take a limited number of members upon what proved to them a novel and somewhat exciting trip to the Needles and back. They travelled at a great pace, said to be over 30 miles an hour, and had full opportunity of observing the skill with which these rapid craft are navigated. Severtil carrier pigeons were taken on board, and one of these was, after a while, despatched to the dockyard with the following jocular message from a well-known member of Parliament: "A rough sea, and no drink on board." The guests, about 60 in number, who took advantage of this cruise in the torpedo boat destroyers, had perforce to miss those portions of the programme which entertained the remainder of the guests during what was left of the afternoon. At one o'clock tugs and steam launches conveyed the larger number of the guests over to the Gunnery School at Whale Island, where they had an opportunity of seeing the latest guns and projectiles. Statistical particulars were furnished as to weight, cost, velocity, and other details. After they had witnessed some firing from quick-firing guns at the rate of about five shots per minute, they ascended to the top of a bank and saw on the drill-ground at a lower level an effective parade of various types of field and maqhine guns, as well as some blank firing. Visits were next paid to the machine-gun and heavy-gun batteries. The guns were manned and worked with exceeding alertness, and gave the spectators a very good idea of what would be expected of the gunners in actual warfare. Many of the same men, with many comrades, had pre- viously shown their practised skill in rifle, cutlass, and sword bayonet exercises. Another attractive feature wis the physical drill of the boys of her Majesty's ship Vincent, which was admirably done, and was in the case of some very effective move^ ments accompanied by themselves vocally in tuneful snatches of familiar song or chorus. At half-past two o'clock the company had to return to the depot ard ?°Srd: ere there was a special parade of about 1000 stokers and 700 marines, the former grouped m detachments according to their respec- tive period of service. In the graving docks the visitors saw two magnificent modern cruisers, the Mars and the Terrible, both being overhauled, and each of which with armament is said to have cost i the country at least a million sterling. The weather, although not bright, was fortunately fair and favourable, despite the warning of an unpropi- tious forecast. The visitors therefore were able to move about with comfort, and at every hand they found excellent arrangements made for their con- venience. Tea was provided for them at the south railway jetty, whence the special train started soon after four o'clock upon the return journey to Londor.

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