Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – Impiety

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Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

This excerpt covers his time onboard HMS Marlborough (The Ship of Happiest Memory) as a naval cadet from the age of 14.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – Impiety

Wisdom spoken by babes was not approved in the Marlborough. I ventured to remark a thing I had observed, which was that the masts of men-of-war were out of proportion tall as compared with the sails they carried; or, in technical language, that the masts were very taunt, whereas the sails were not proportionately square. I said that the masts ought to be lower and the sails squarer, thus increasing the sailing power.

D—n it! Listen to this youngster laying down the law as if he knew better than Nelson!” cried an old mate. I was instantly sentenced to be cobbed; and received twelve strokes with a dirk scabbard.

It was true that the rig had been inherited from the men of Nelson’s day; but it was not true that I had pretended to know better than the late admiral; for, since his death, the ships had become longer; so that, whereas in Nelson’s time the masts, being closer together, were made taller, with relatively narrow sails, in order that in going about the yards should not lock, in my time the reason for the disproportion had ceased to exist. Very shortly after I had been beaten for the impiety of thinking for myself, the merchant clippers adopted the very plan I had in mind, lowering masts and increasing the size of sails and thereby gaining a speed which was unrivalled.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – Civita Vecchia

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Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

This excerpt covers his time onboard HMS Marlborough (The Ship of Happiest Memory) as a naval cadet from the age of 14.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – Civita Vecchia

There used to be very bad feeling between English and Maltese. Both sailors and soldiers frequently lost their lives on shore. The seamen used to be stabbed, and the soldiers were sometimes thrown over the fortifications at night. I have seen a dead soldier lying on the rocks where he was thrown. A party of Marlborough officers drove out in “go-carts” (two-wheeled vehicles in which passengers lay on cushions) to Civita Vecchia, to hear the celebrated Mass on New Year’s Eve. The Cathedral was the richest church in Europe until Napoleon confiscated its treasure. Somehow or other, there was a row, and we were fighting fiercely with crowd of Maltese. A clerk of our party, a very stout person, was stabbed in the belly, so that his entrails protruded. We got him away, laid him in a go-cart, drove back to Malta, a two-hours’ drive, and put him on board, and he recovered.

At nine o’clock p.m. the seniors in the gunroom stuck a fork in the beam overhead, the signal for the youngsters to leave their elders in peace; too often to drink. Sobriety; to put it delicately; was not reckoned a virtue. I remember visiting a ship at Bermuda (never mind her name) to find every member of the mess intoxicated. Two were suffering from delirium tremens; and one of them was picking the bodies of imaginary rats from the floor with a stick. His case was worse than that of the eminent member of a certain club in London, who, when a real rat ran across the carpet, looked solemnly round upon the expectant faces of his friends, and said, “Aha! You thought I saw a rat. But I didn’t!”

There was no rank of sub-lieutenant, the corresponding grade being a “mate.” Many of the mates were men of thirty or more, who had never gained promotion and who never would gain it. I remember an old mate who used to earn his living by rowing a wherry in Portsmouth Harbour. He was then [1862] on half-pay, with seniority of [1820]. His name was Peter B. Stagg, as you may see in the Navy Lists of the period. In the Navy List of [1862], Stagg is rated sub-lieutenant the rank of mate having been abolished in the previous year.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – Leave Stopped

 

Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

This excerpt covers his time onboard HMS Marlborough (The Ship of Happiest Memory) as a naval cadet from the age of 14.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – Leave Stopped

The Author as Naval CadetWhen we lay in Corfu Harbour, the Marlborough was challenged by a crew of artillerymen. It was I think on this occasion that John Glanville headed a deputation to me, asking me to be the coxswain.

“Well, sir,” he said, “it’s like this here, sir, if you’ll pardon me. Yew be young-like, and what we was thinking was whether you have the power of language that du be required.”

I said I would do my best. I did. I astonished myself. As for the artillerymen, they rowed themselves right under. There was a little seaway, and they rowed the boat under and there they were struggling in the water.

“What! Yew bain’t never going to pick ‘em up?” cried John Glanville, in the heat of his excitement.

I also rowed bow-oar in the officers’ boat the second cutter. I was young and small, but I had great staying power. I could go on rowing for ever.

When my leave was stopped; which did occur occasionally; I had a system by means of which I went ashore at night I lashed a hammock-lashing round the port sternring, crawled out of the stern port, lowered myself to the water, and swam to a shore boat, waiting for me by arrangement. Maltese boats are partly covered in, and I dressed in a spare suit of clothes. On one occasion, upon landing, I nearly; but not quite; ran into the arms of the commander.

One night I went ashore, taking a painter and two men. We lowered the painter over the edge of the cliff, and he inscribed on the cliff in immense letters, ” ‘Marlborough,’ Star of the Mediterranean.” Next morning the whole Fleet, not without emotion, beheld the legend. Another brilliant wit went ashore on the following night and altered the word “Star ” into “Turtle” My reply was the addition “Until the ‘Queen’ comes out.” After this exploit I was sent ashore to clean the cliff.

There were numerous horses in Malta, and the midshipmen and bluejackets used to hire them for half-a-crown a day. When the horses had had enough of their riders, they used to gallop down to the Florian Gate, kick them off, and return to their stable. I heard one sailor remark to another, who, sticking to his horse, was bounding up and down in his saddle:

“Get off that there ‘orse, Jack, ‘e’s a beast!”

“He aint no beast at all,” retorted Jack. “‘E’s the cleverest ‘orse I ever see. He chucks me up and he catches me, he chucks me up and he catches me; why, ‘e’s only missed me three times in a hour!”

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – The Boat Races

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Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

This excerpt covers his time onboard HMS Marlborough (The Ship of Happiest Memory) as a naval cadet from the age of 14.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – The Boat Races

Among the most delightful incidents were the boatraces. It was before the time when fleet regattas were instituted. What happened was that a boat would row round from their ship, to the ship they wished to race, and toss oars under her bows in sign of a challenge. Then the boat’s crew of the challenged ship would practise with intense assiduity until they felt they were fit to meet the enemy. The bitterest feeling was aroused. Even the crews of “chummy ships” could not meet without fighting. Hundreds of pounds were wagered on the event. In the Marlborough we had the cutter, Black Bess, specially built for racing. Her stroke was John Glanville, the gigantic boatswain’s mate, who, when I joined the ship, told Dicky Horne, the quartermaster, that I was not likely to live long. He was the son of Ann Glanville, the redoubtable West country woman who pulled stroke in the crew of Saltash women that raced and beat a crew of Frenchmen at Cherbourg, under the eyes of the Queen, the Prince Consort, the Emperor Napoleon III., and the British and French navies. That notable victory was won in [1858], when Queen Victoria, accompanied by the Prince Consort, visited Napoleon III. The Queen and the Prince sailed in H.M.S. Victoria and Albert, escorted by a squadron of men-of-war. They were received by the French Navy. After the race, the Queen invited the Saltash women on board the Royal yacht. Later in life, it was my privilege to remove anxiety concerning her livelihood from fine old Mrs. Glanville.

I steered the Black Bess, and we beat the two best boats in the Fleet; and then we were challenged by the St. George. The St. George had taken the upper strake off her boat to make her row easier. Now the stroke of the St. George was George Glanville, brother to John, and of the same formidable weight and size. The race was rowed in Malta Harbour, over a 3-mile course, and we were beaten. We could not understand it; but beaten we were. That night George Glanville came aboard the Marlborough with a bag containing some £300, the money put up to cover the stakes. George came to receive the stakes, and according to custom he brought the cover-money to show that all was above-board. To him came John his brother; and scarce a word was said ere the two big men were fighting furiously, the bag of gold on the deck beside them. They were torn apart with difficulty. Nor could the respective crews be landed together for a long time afterwards. Next year we beat the St. George.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project

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Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – Midshipman

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Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

This excerpt covers his time onboard HMS Marlborough (The Ship of Happiest Memory) as a naval cadet from the age of 14.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – Midshipman

At first in the Marlborough I was midshipman of the mizentop, and in charge of the jolly-boat. The midshipman in charge of a boat learned how to handle men. As he was away from the ship with them for long periods, he was forced to understand them and to discover how to treat them, thus learning the essential elements of administration. As all my delight was in seamanship, I contrived to miss a good deal of school. It was not difficult, when the naval instructor desired my presence, to find a good reason for duty with my boat. I was afterwards midshipman of the foretop, and when I was promoted from the jolly-boat to the second pinnace, and to the command of the first subdivision of the three-pounder division of field-guns for landing, being placed in charge of one three-pounder gun, I thought I was an emperor.

We used to land with the guns for field-battery exercises, setting Marine sentries all round to prevent the men getting away to drink. Returning on board, we used to race down the Calcara Hill at Malta to the harbour. On one occasion, we were going so fast that we couldn’t turn the gun round the corner, and gun and all toppled over the wharf into the water.

I fell into another scrape in excess of zeal for marksmanship. We used to practise aiming with rifles and muzzle-loading Enfields, the Service rifle of that day. We fired percussion caps without charges, at little bull’s-eyes painted on a strip of canvas, which was stretched along the bulwarks below the hammock-nettings. The marksman stood on the opposite side of the deck. Another midshipman and myself contrived to fire a couple of caps as projectiles, which of course entered the woodwork behind the targets, making dreadful holes. This appalling desecration, involving the fitting in of new planking, was discovered by the commander, Brandreth. His rage was justifiable. We were stood on the bitts, and also mastheaded.

Captain Houston Stewart used to fish from the stern gallery when the ship was at anchor. He tied his line to the rail, and went back into his cabin, returning every few minutes to see if he had a fish. Beneath the stern gallery opened the ports of the gunroom. With a hooked stick I drew in his line, attached a red herring to the hook, dropped it in again, and when the captain came to feel his line I jerked it. He hauled it up in a hurry. Instantly after, he sent for all the midshipmen; and, for some reason or other, he picked me out at once.

“You did that, Beresford,” he said. “Most impertinent! Your leave will be stopped.”

Next day, however, he let me off.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – Fair Play

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Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

This excerpt covers his time onboard HMS Marlborough (The Ship of Happiest Memory) as a naval cadet from the age of 14.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – Fair Play

One of the closest escapes I have ever had occurred aloft in the Marlborough. Being midshipman of the mizenroyal, I was furling the sail, leaning forward upon the yard, gathering in the canvas, my feet braced backward upon the footrope, when another midshipman, leaping upon the footrope, accidentally knocked it from under my feet. For two or three seconds I hung by the tips of my fingers, which were pressed against the jackstay of the mizen-royal yard (the rope running taut along the top of the yard to which the sail is bent) under which I could not push my fingers, and then, at the last moment I found the footrope again. I have never forgotten my feelings, when I saw certain death approaching while my feet were clawing about for the footrope.

When the hands were turned out to bathe, John Glanville, chief boatswain’s mate, would go up to the main-yard, stand with one foot on the yard and the other on the preventive braceblock, and thence take a header. The height was between 50 and 60 feet. Once he struck the sea sideways, and was injured, so that he was never quite the same man afterwards. But any other man would have been killed.

On another occasion, when the ship was hove-to for the hands to bathe, the captain of the forecastle hauled the jib sheet aft, and the ship began to glide away from the officers and men, myself among them, in the water. Luckily all got on board again.

In the spirit of emulation, I fell into deserved disgrace at sail-drill. In order to be first in the evolution, I secretly unbent the foretopgallant sheet before the men arrived at the masthead. Another midshipman did likewise at the main. He was Arthur Gresley, one of the smartest midshipmen aloft, and one of the best oars in the Service, a splendid, cheery, chivalrous, noble-minded lad. We were discovered; and, before all the men, we were ordered down on deck, and were severely reprimanded for having endeavoured to gain an unfair advantage, thereby staining the character of a ship justly noted for her scrupulous fair play. I was taken out of my top, deprived of the command of my boat, and disrated to cadet; and I had serious thoughts of ending a ruined career by jumping overboard. I have never been so genuinely unhappy before or since. But upon the following day I was rated up again, and replaced in my top and my boat.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – The Old Navy

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Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

This excerpt covers his time onboard HMS Marlborough (The Ship of Happiest Memory) as a naval cadet from the age of 14.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – The Old Navy

Another old topmate, Mr. S.D. Sharp, writing to me in [1909], when I hauled down my flag, says:- “I was proud of the old Marlborough and her successor up the Straits, the Victoria. They were a noble sight in full sail with a stiff breeze. No doubt the present fleet far excels the old wooden walls, but the old wooden walls made sailors. But sailors today have to stand aside for engine-men. Going round Portsmouth dockyard some few years since, I was very sad to see the noble old Marlborough a hulk” (she is now part of H.M.S. Vernon Torpedo School), “laid aside, as I expect we all shall be in time” (Mr. Sharp is only between seventy and eighty years of age). “I am doubtful if there are many men in the Navy today who would stand bolt upright upon the royal truck of a line-of-battle ship. I was one of those who did so. Perhaps a foolish practice. But in those days fear never came our way.”

There speaks the Old Navy.

When a ship was paid off out of Malta Harbour, it was the custom that there should be a man standing erect on each of the trucks, main, mizen and fore. Many a time have I seen these men, balanced more than 200 feet in the air, strip off their shirts and wave them. And once I saw a man holding to the vane-spindle set in the truck, and I saw the spindle break in his hand, and the man fall…

In the course of my experience, I have seen a man fall off the main-royal yard, be caught in the belly of the mainsail, slip down the sail, catch the second reef-line with his legs, and hold on until a topmate ran aloft with a bowline and saved him.

I have seen a man fall off the maintopsail yard, and be caught in the bight of the mainsheet in the main rigging, and run aloft again. And this was at sea.

And several times I have seen a man fall from aloft to be dashed to pieces upon the deck.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project

 

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1847 – Treaty with Brunei

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James Brooke became the first White Rajah of Sarawak in 1841 after inheriting £30,000 and investing it in the schooner ‘The Royalist’ and sailing for Borneo. 

We are publishing a blog series that covers his adventures – taken from one of the books in our library called Rajah Brooke by Sir Spenser St John published in 1899.

Catch-up with earlier posts in the James Rajah Brooke series here or search our library here.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1847 – Treaty with Brunei

Having received instructions from Her Majesty’s Government, Brooke, in May [1847], proceeded to Brunei to negotiate a treaty with the Sultan, which should not only regulate the trade relations between the two countries, but should contain a clause declaring that British subjects committing offences within His Highness’s dominions might only be tried by Her Majesty’s representative.

The treaty was signed, and then Brooke left on board the Company’s steamer Nemesis, Captain Wallace, who was on his way to Singapore. When they arrived near the mouth of the Brunei river they were hailed by a native prahu and were informed that a Balignini pirate squadron was outside, capturing fishing and trading boats. As soon as the Nemesis rounded the sandy point of the island of Muara they saw eleven Balignini prahus in full chase of a native vessel, but as soon as the steamer appeared the pirates turned towards the shore, and finding escape hopeless, pulled into a shallow bay, anchored their vessels, bows seaward, and all kept in position by hawsers connecting the prahus to each other.

The steamer arrived, when the pirates immediately opened fire on her, and after rather a prolonged action they cut their cables. Some prahus pulled away to the north, others to the south, while the remainder were deserted by their crews. It is needless to enter into details, but it may be mentioned that in all the vessels taken were found crowds of captives, principally from the Dutch possessions. None of the prahus made the Balignini Islands, as the three that escaped the steamer were so riddled with shot that the crews had to take to their boats, and after a painful voyage at last reached home. The pirates of the eight other prahus were forced to seek refuge on shore, and after committing some murders and other excesses, were surrounded, and then they surrendered to the Sultan, who had them all put to death.

Excerpt from Rajah Brooke, published in 1899 by Sir Spenser St John

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Further Reading and External Links

James Rajah Brooke on Wikipedia

The Royalist Schooner