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