Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1864 – 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 Clio.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1864 – Midshipman

I wish I could convey to my readers something of the pride and delight which a sailor feels in his ship. But who that has never had the luck to be a deep-water sailor, can understand his joy in the noble vessel, or the uplifting sense of his control over her matchless and splendid power, born of a knowledge of her every rope and sail and timber, and of an understanding of her behaviour and ability. For every ship has her own spirit, her own personality. You may build two ships or twenty upon the same design, line for line the same, and each will develop her own character. As there are no two people alike, so there are no two ships the same.

What can be more glorious than a ship getting under way? She quivers like a sentient thing amid the whole moving tumultuous lusty life. Men are racing aloft; other men, their feet pounding upon the white decks, are running away with the ropes; the ringing commands and the shouting fill the air; the wind strikes with a salt and hearty sting; and the proud and beautiful creature rises to the lift of the sea. Doctor, paymaster, idlers and all used to run up on deck to witness that magnificent spectacle, a full-rigged ship getting under sail. As for me, I blessed my luck when I returned from the Defence to a sailing ship.

The Clio was a corvette pierced for 22 guns, of 1472 tons burthen, and 400 h.p. The screw was hoisted when she was under sail which was nearly all the time. She was an excellent sailor, doing fourteen to sixteen knots.

The midshipmen’s mess was so small, that there was no room for chairs. We sat on lockers, and in order to reach the farther side, we must walk across the table. One of our amusements in this tiny cabin was racing cockroaches, which were numerous. We used to drop a bit of melted tallow from a purser’s dip upon their backs, plant in it a piece of spun-yarn, light the spun-yarn, and away they would go from one end of the table to the other. There was once a cockroach; but not in the Clio; which escaped, its light still burning, and set the ship on fire.

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

HMS Clio