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shadow of the barges, it was a rich and unctuous yellow-brown. Boys were bathing all along the reach, their white, naked bodies glistening in the brave sunlight so that one was reminded of Tuke's pictures. And then came the sharpest contrast of all. Half & mile up the river the shipbreakers' hammers were busy upon the old red rusty shell of one of the first of the steam turret battleships. As I had passed, I had seen one of her huge obsolete clumsy guns swaying in the slings. And here, right before me now, there lay an old wooden three-decker awaiting the same end.
We have, of course, gone forward as regards the efficiency and deadly power of our Navy, but in its beauty we have undoubtedly receded. The battleship of to-day is stately, and grim, and splendid, but it is not only the glamour of old years that makes one view these swiftly vanishing wooden giants almost with a catch of the breath.
a Beauty, when it can be found, is always worthy of worship. These old warships have a sombre gallant grace that is all their own. There is beauty in the long, easy sweep of their lines, and a suggestion of scowling power about their tiers of ports. There was about this dismasted aged hulk something of the eternal strength and solidity of an old castle, a grey shell of battered stone that has clung to the hillside in all weathers for a thousand years. She had the rounded, improved stern that came into use in naval architecture about 1820, and inevitably she recalled that fight in Navarino Bay that is in many ways one of the strangest in our story. It is worthy of remembrance, that four hours' murderous fight, in which the Turkish and Egyptian fleets were almost totally destroyed by an English admiral commanding the squadrons of three nations.
Sir Edward Codrington had had the inestimable advantage of service and training under Nelson. He had commanded the Orion at Trafalgar, and he proved himself a worthy pupil of the master. He must have been possessed of certain gifts that are not always vouchsafed unsparingly to the English, or he could scarcely have handled French, Russian, and English squadrons with a minimum of jealous friction. In 1827 he was flying his flag in the Asia of eighty-four guns as Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean, and in July of that year he was directed to repair into the Levant. Public opinion throughout Europe had been somewhat stirred by the horrors of the war of Greek independence, and certain Governments, to their own intense annoyance, had been goaded from their usual cynical calm. A treaty had accordingly been made between England, France, and Russia, and each of these three Powers VOL. XXVI.-NO, 155, N.S.
instructed its admiral in the Mediterranean 'to exert all the means which circumstances might suggest to his prudence to obtain the immediate effect of the desired armistice (between Turkey and Greece), by preventing, so far as should be in his power, all collision between the contending parties.' These instructions are of interest because circumstances ultimately led to Sir Edward Codrington in bis prudence blowing the fleet of one of the contending parties out of the water! Whereupon certain cautious and powerful people in the English Government were greatly shocked, upon the surface, by so much bloodshed, and, less openly, were grieved that a barrier to Russian aggression had been removed, and very naturally they sought to prove that Sir Edward Codrington 'had exceeded bis instructions.' Which is a priceless formula that has been worn threadbare in the chastening of the servants of England. But it is certain that Codrington had been meant to employ force, if necessary, to keep the peace. Stratford Canning, the English Ambassador at Constantinople, had written him that the true meaning of the second instruction under the treaty is that we mean to enforce, by cannon shot if necessary, the armistice which is the object of the treaty; the object being to interpose the allied forces and to keep the peace-by the speaking trumpet if possible, but in case of necessity by force.' Which to any sailor, unversed in the deceits of higher diplomacy, must have appeared sufficiently explicit. Nevertheless it is possible that Sir Edward Codrington would have figured as a scapegoat, had it not been for public opinion. The King at the opening of Parliament had spoken of the battle as
this untoward event'; but the great heart of England, which felt that the Admiral had treated it to a really lurid exhibition, was stirred to its generous depths. For the moment Sir Edward Codrington was raised almost to the pedestal of a successful pugilist or racehorse. And the Government, as is the fashion of Governments, yielded gracefully to the outcry, and stated with mild surprise 'that they had never cast the least imputation upon the gallant officer who had commanded at Navarino !' But all this is somewhat premature.
On the 25th of September at Navarino, Ibrahim Pasha, the Commander-in-Chief of the Turkish sea and land forces, at an interview with Codrington and the French Admiral De Rigny, had given his verbal assent to the proposed armistice. Then in a few days came the news of Lord Cochrane's descent upon Patras, and Ibrahim Pasha considered, not unreasonably, that the engagement had been broken. He despatched a strong squadron to Patras, but this was met by Codrington, who, although in little force at the moment, stated coolly that he would open fire if the Turkish ships did not turn back. The Turkish commander yielded to the admirable assurance of the Englishman, and returned to Navarino. Sir Edward Codrington complained with bitterness of the perfidy of the Turks, but Ibrahim Pasha could scarcely have been expected to observe an armistice that was entirely upon one side. As the Greeks were still the aggressors, he landed in force in the Morea and proceeded to devastate the country with the customary atrocities in typical Turkish fashion. These proceedings were reported to Codrington, and on the 14th of October he arrived off Navarino. He had now been joined by all his ships, and by the French and Russian squadrons, and had under his command eleven ships of the line, eight large frigates, and eight smaller vessels. In the Bay of Navarino the Turkish and Egyptian fleets were still anchored. They consisted of three ships of the line, fifteen large frigates, and a swarm of smaller vessels that seems to have brought up the total to eighty-nine, although, according to some Turkish accounts, there were only sixty-five. The Ottomans were thus greatly superior in mere numbers, but, as was shortly to be proved, they were hugely inferior to the Allies in all else save courage. A crushing advantage lay with the force that had the greater number of ships of the line, for it must be remembered that several smaller vessels were no match for one of these titans. It is one of the peculiarities of Navarino that in this battle corvettes and small frigates attempted almost for the first time to engage undisabled line-of-battle ships, and it cannot be said that the daring experiment met with any encouraging
A problem of some difficulty was now presented to the English Admiral and his colleagues.
It appeared probable that the Morea would shortly be depopulated unless the Turks received a check, and the first course that suggested itself to the Allies was a blockade of the bay. But the lateness of the season rendered this process dangerous and difficult, and the only alternative appeared to be to move inside the bay and anchor. But this step would almost inevitably provoke a conflict, which was directly contrary to the wishes of the allied Governments, and, in addition, Sir Edward Codrington was aware that it presented some danger. For the sloop that he had sent inside to reconnoitre had reported that the Turkish and Egyptian ships
were drawn up with great skill. They had been moored in a huge crescent, under the direction of M. Letellier, a French naval officer in the service of the Pacha of Egypt, in such a fashion that any ships anchoring in the middle of the bay would be exposed to their concentrated fire. However, it was impossible to stay outside with any effect, and so, upon the 20th of October, Sir Edward Codrington ordered an advance into the bay.
He led the way himself in the Asia, and he proposed to anchor close in alongside the Turks, on account of the depth of water, and in order to nullify the strength of their formation. He must have expected a collision under the circumstances, but he certainly did his best to avoid it. The guns were loaded and the men at quarters, according to the custom of the navy when meeting the fleet of any other country even in peace time, but otherwise the ships were not in battle order. Their lower-deck ports were not hauled flat against the sides, but kept square as at sea in fine weather, and the commanders were ordered not to anchor by the stern, which might imply a hostile intention, but to anchor with springs to their anchors. In order to prevent jealousy the English and French formed the weather or starboard line, and the Russian squadron the lee line. The Genoa and the Albion followed the flagship closely, and Sir Edward says that all three took up their stations beautifully and with great speed. Meanwhile, some symptoms of unrest were noticeable upon the Turkish ships. Their men were at quarters, their tompions out, and, according to James, their guns loaded nearly to the muzzles with shot, broken bars, rusty iron, and other materials. A boat shot out from a fort bear. ing the message that as Ibrahim Pasha had not given any orders or permission for the allied fleets to enter, it was requested that they would again put to sea.' The English Admiral replied curtly that he was not come to receive orders, but to give them, and that if any shot were fired at the allied fleet the Turkish fleet would be destroyed.
And then there followed a short pause, an ominous silence, before the bursting of the storm. It may be said at once that the Turks had no desire to provoke an immediate conflict. They admitted afterwards that they had wished the action to be fought at midnight, when their fireships could have been used with most effect. However, circumstances and proximity were too strong for them, as they were for the Allies. The band of the Asia had just been desired to come on deck, with the idea that its music might give
weight to the peaceful intentions of the intruders, when a spluttering fire of musketry was heard from near where the frigate Dartmouth had taken up her station. It seemed that the Dartmouth had anchored dead to leeward of a Turkish fireship, and had sent a boat to move her, or to order her to move. The lieutenant in the boat had strict orders to keep the peace, but the Turks, assuming that her mission was not friendly, fired into her, killing Lieutenant Fitzroy and several of her men. The Dartmouth and La Sirène (the French Admiral's flagship) answered with musketry, and then one of the Egyptian ships fired a round shot that struck La Sirène. After that, a general action followed, of course,' as Sir Edward Codrington wrote.
The Asia had taken up a station offering some chances of distinction, thrusting her way in between the flagships of the Turkish and Egyptian Admirals. But Moharem Bey, the Egyptian commander, sent a message that he did not propose to open fire at all, and for some little while no broadsides were exchanged between his ship and the Asia. However, Mr. Peter Mitchell, the Asia's pilot, who had been sent in a boat to Moharem Bey to explain Sir Edward Codrington's desire to avoid bloodshed, was wantonly killed while alongside the Egyptian ship. This does not appear to have been done by the orders of Moharem Bey, but soon afterwards he saw fit to open fire upon the Asia. Then the English flagship answered in a terrible fashion, and Moharem Bey's vessel literally withered before her blasting broadside. The effect of her heavy guns at point-blank range appears to have been astounding. The Asia, as has been said, was between two hostile line-of-battle ships, and, in addition, she was raked from the stern by several corvettes and lesser craft; but in ten minutes' time the Egyptian and Turkish flagships were drifting away mere helpless blazing wrecks.
And at that moment the English fire slackened throughout the fleet, for the smoke about the Asia was so thick that it was thought that she was on fire. Then there came a puff of wind, and as the smoke lifted the tall figure of the English Admiral was clearly seen standing upon his poop. There was a burst of cheering from all the English ships, and then their fire crashed out once more.
Already the result was almost a foregone conclusion, but the stubborn courage of the Turks was rendering it no bloodless victory for the Allies. Hopelessly wanting in training and science as they were, they yet stood to their guns with the blind valour that has won fame for the Turkish fighting man throughout all Europe.