James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1856 – Rumours and Mischief

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.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1856 – Rumours and Mischief

At Bau, the chief town of the Chinese in Sarawak, the secretary of the Kungsi showed a letter from the Straits Branch of the Tien-Ti-Hue to a Malay trader named Jeludin, urging them to act against the foreigner. I mention these facts to show the extraordinary ramifications of these secret societies, which in every country where they exist are the source of endless trouble and disorder.

During the month of November [1856] rumours were abroad that the Chinese Gold Company intended to surprise the small stockades which constituted the only defences of the town of Kuching, and which, as no enemy was suspected to exist in the country, were seldom guarded by more than four men each. Mr Crookshank, who was then administering the government, took the precaution (as has been stated) to man them with a sufficient garrison, for it was said that during one of their periodical religious feasts several hundred men were to collect quietly, and make a rush for the arsenal. On the Rajah’s return from Singapore he instituted some inquiries into the affair, but could obtain no further information than such as vague rumour afforded. He consequently reduced the garrisons, after punishing the Chinese chiefs; but such experienced officers as Mr Crookshank and the chief constable, Mr Middleton, were not satisfied, feeling that there was mischief in the air; and Mr Charles Johnson wrote to me that if their high tone was not lowered the Chinese would certainly do the country a mischief.

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

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1856 – Chinese Insurrection

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.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1856 – Chinese Insurrection

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When Mr Fox and I made a long tour, in July [1856], among the Chinese settlements of the interior, we became convinced that opium smuggling was being carried on to a great extent, as however numerous might be the newcomers, the revenue from that source had a tendency to decrease.

At last it was discovered that opium was sent from Singapore to the Natuna Islands, and from thence it was smuggled into Sarawak and the Dutch possessions of Sambas and Pontianak. It was proved that the Kungsi had been engaged in this contraband trade, and it was fined £150, a very trifling amount, considering the thousands it had gained by defrauding the revenue, and measures were immediately taken to suppress the traffic. This, and the punishment of three of its members for a gross assault on another Chinaman, were the only grounds of complaint which could be alleged against the Sarawak Government.

But these trivial cases were not the real cause of the Chinese insurrection in Sarawak. Before that date all the Celestials in the East had been greatly excited by the announcement that the English had retired from before Canton, and that the Viceroy of the province had offered a reward of £25 for every Englishman slain. The news had been greatly exaggerated. It was said we had been utterly defeated by the Chinese forces, and now was the time, the Gold Company thought, to expel the English from Sarawak and assume the government themselves. The secret societies were everywhere in great excitement, and the Tien-Ti-Hue sent emissaries over from Singapore and Malacca to incite the gold workers to rebellion, and used the subtle, but unfortunately cogent argument, that not only were the English crushed at Canton, but that the British Government was so discontented with the Rajah that it would not interfere, if the Kungsi only destroyed him and his officers, and did not meddle with private English interests or obstruct trade. Here we see another disastrous effect of the Commission.

It was also currently reported that the Sultan of Sambas and his Malay nobles offered every encouragement to the enterprise; and the Chinese listened much to their advice, as these noblemen can speak to the Celestials in their own language, and are themselves greatly imbued with Chinese ideas. To explain this curious state of things, it may be mentioned that the children of these nobles are always nursed by girls chosen from among the healthiest of the daughters of the Chinese gold workers. Further, about that time there was a very active intercourse carried on between the Malay nobles of Sambas and Pangeran Makota, the Rajah’s old enemy and the Sultan of Brunei’s favourite minister, and the latter was constantly closeted with an emissary of the Tien-Ti-Hue of Singapore, to whom I am about to refer.

To show that this was not a mere conjecture I may state that on the 14th of February [1857], four days before the insurrection in Sarawak, a Chinese named Achang, who had arrived at Brunei from Singapore a few days previously, and had a year before been expelled from Sarawak for joining a secret society, came to my house to try and induce my four Chinese servants to enter the Hue, adding as a sufficient reason that the Gold Company of Sarawak would by that time have killed all the white men in that country.

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

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1856 – Secret Societies

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.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1856 – Secret Societies

CHINESE colonists are the mainstay of every country in the Further East; but they carry with them an institution which may have its value in ill-governed countries, but which in our colonies is an unmitigated evil. I refer to their secret societies. A secret society is ostensibly instituted under the form of a benevolent association, but actually its members are banded together to obey no laws but their own, to carry out the behests of their leaders without question, and to afford protection to each other under all circumstances. If a member of the secret society commit a crime he is to be protected or hidden away; if he be taken by the police, the society is bound to secure him the ablest legal assistance, furnish as many false witnesses as may be required, and if he be convicted, pay his fine, or do all in its power to alleviate the discomforts of a prison. Therefore, flogging is the most deterrent form of punishment, as it cannot be shared. Should the society suspect any member of revealing its secrets, or from any cause desire to be rid of an obnoxious person, it condemns the individual to death, and sentence is carried out by its members, who, through fear of the last penalty, always obey their oath. On these occasions the mark of the society is put on the victim to show who has ordered the deed. In our colonies we have not been altogether successful in putting down these pernicious associations.

For many years the Chinese living in Kuching, the capital of Sarawak, had attempted to form secret societies, but the Rajah’s vigorous hand had crushed every attempt, and it appeared as if success had attended his policy. This was the case so far as the Chinese of the capital were concerned; but in the interior, among the gold workers, the Kungsi performed the functions of a secret society, and its chiefs carried on extensive correspondence with their fellow-countrymen in Sambas and Pontianak, the neighbouring Dutch possessions, and with the Tien-Ti-Hue (Heaven and Earth Secret Society) in Singapore.

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

London – The First Theatres – 1613 – The Globe

This article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery – it covers the history of London’s theatres from the 1100s through to the 1800s.

London – The First Theatres – 1613 – The Globe

The Globe Theatre was the scene of Shakespeare’s exertions as an actor, and here many of his best pieces were first performed. The Globe was burnt down on St. Peter’s day, the 29th of June, 1613. The fire originated, according to Winwood, with the mimic discharges in Shakespeare’s play of Henry VIII, when the rushes of the roof caught fire; and he adds, that the attention of the audience was so much engaged with the actors, that they did not notice it. Fortunately, however, there were few or no accidents, a circumstance alluded to in an old ballad of the time, of which the following is the first stanza.

“Now sit thee down, Melpomene,
Wrapt in a sea coal robe;
And tell the doleful tragedie
That late was play’d at Globe:

For noe man that can singe and say e,
Was scar’d on St. Peter’s day.
Oh sorrow, pittifull sorrow; and yett all this
is true.”

The theatre was rebuilt in the following year, in so superior a manner, that Taylor, in his epigram, calls it a stately theatre:

“As gold is better that’s in fire tried,
So is the Bankside Globe, that late was burn’d;
For where before it had a thatched hide,
Now to a stately theatre is turn’d.”

Although the interior arrangements of the theatre in the time of Shakespeare did not, in their leading features, differ from those observed at the present day, yet the construction was rude and inconvenient; galleries were formed on three sides of the house, and beneath them were rooms, which were equivalent to our boxes: and there is reason to believe they were occasionally the property of individuals, and not let commonly. The stage was divided into two parts, namely, an upper and a lower stage; an advantage which was particularly felt in representing the playscene in the tragedy of Hamlet. The musicians did not intervene between the pit and the stage, but were stationed in an elevated balcony, nearly occupying that part of the house now denominated the upper stagebox. At the private theatres seats were placed on the stage for critics and amateurs, a privilege by which Dekker says,

“you have a signed patent to engross the whole commodity of censure; may lawfully presume to be a guider and stand at the helm to steer the passage of scenes.”

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

William Shakespeare on Wikipedia

The Globe Theatre on Wikipedia

Sholto and Rueben Percy

London – The First Theatres – 1629

This article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery – it covers the history of London’s theatres from the 1100s through to the 1800s.

London – The First Theatres – 1629

When the first London theatre was built, or where it was actually situated, seems doubtful; but early in the reign of Elizabeth, the Curtain, the Red Bull, and the Globe theatres, were all flourishing. The love of the drama appears to have spread with singular rapidity; for Rymer, in his Fosdera, relates, that in the sixty years preceding [1629], no less than seventeen “common play houses” were built in and about London, “five inns or common osteries were turned to playhouses, one cockpit, St. Paul’s singing school, the Globe on the Bankside, the Fortune near Golden Lane, one in White Fryars, etc. besides the new built Bear-gardens, built as well for plays as fencers, bear and bull-baiting.”

Popular, however, as plays were, they appear to have yielded in royal estimation to bear-baiting; and there is an order of the privy council of Queen Elizabeth in 1591 extant, which prohibits plays been acted on Thursdays, because they “were a great hurt and destruction of the game of bear-baiting and like pastimes, which are maintained for her majesty’s pleasure” on those days. Among the early London theatres, the Globe is entitled to the first notice, on account of its connection with the great magician of the drama.

Pennant was so anxious to identify Shakespeare with the Globe Theatre, that in a map he has given, purporting to be a plan of London and Westminster in the year 1563, he has introduced the singular anachronism of “Shakespeare’s play-house,” although the immortal bard was not born until the following year; nor the Globe Theatre built on the site of an amphitheatre for bear-baiting in Bank side, Southwark, until the year 1596-8. It is a round building of wood, a circumstance which seems to be alluded to by Shakespeare in the play of Henry V.

“Can this cock-pit hold
The field of vasty France? or can we cram
Into this wooden O, the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt?”

The house was very spacious, the partial roof was covered with rushes, but the area was open. On the turret or roof a silk flag, the usual emblem of places of amusement, was displayed; and in the front of the building was a painting, exhibiting Hercules supporting the globe, with the motto,; Totus mundus agit histrionem.

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

William Shakespeare on Wikipedia

The Globe Theatre on Wikipedia

Sholto and Rueben Percy

London – The First Theatres – 1574 – Patents

This article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery – it covers the history of London’s theatres from the 1100s through to the 1800s.

London – The First Theatres – 1574 – Patents

When dramatic representations ceased to be founded on religious subjects, they were no longer performed in churches, as was the case sometimes with the mysteries and moralities, and playhouses became necessary. The convenient form of the  inns (still preserved in many of them) in London, with an open area in the centre, and a gallery on each side of the quadrangle, presented itself as a theatre ready made, with the exception of the stage; this was easily raised either in the centre or on one side of the court, and thus many of our early dramatic pieces were performed in the yards of the inns. Even the first theatres were but a very slight improvement, for the area or pit was generally exposed to the air.

The first company of players that received the sanction of a patent, was that of James Burbidge and others, the servants of the Earl of Leicester, to whom Queen Elizabeth granted a patent in [1574]. The children of the royal chapel, afterwards called the children of the Revels, were next formed into a company; and the Lord Admiral and Lord Strange had each a company of players, who occasionally exhibited at the houses of their patrons, or in other parts of the town. Stowe states, that Lord Strange’s players performed an obnoxious play at the Cross Keys in 1589 and although the lord treasurer had requested the lord mayor to suppress it, they disobeyed the order, which induced his lordship to commit two of them to the Compter, and to prohibit all plays until the pleasure of the lord treasurer was known. Previous to this time the plays were complained of as personal satires; and so early as the year [1574], Sir James Hawes, lord mayor, issued a proclamation in which he claimed for himself and the court of aldermen, the privilege now exercised by the lord chamberlain, of perusing and sanctioning the plays previous to their being acted. A penalty of five pounds and fourteen days imprisonment were inflicted on all actors of plays, “wherein should be uttered any words, examples or doings of any unchastity, sedition, or such like unfit and uncomely matter.” Yet it was provided that this act “should not extend to plays performed in private houses, the lodgings of a nobleman, citizen or gentleman, for the celebration of any marriage or other festivity, and where no collection of money was made from the auditors.”

It appears from Stowe, that the first players were “ingenious tradesmen and gentlemen’s servants,” who united in a company of themselves “to learn interludes, to expose vice, or to represent the noble actions of our ancestors;” but that in process of time it became an occupation, when the players publicly “uttered popular and seditious matters, and shameful speeches; and these plays being commonly acted on Sundays and festivals, the churches were forsaken, and the play houses thronged.”

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

William Shakespeare on Wikipedia

The Globe Theatre on Wikipedia

Sholto and Rueben Percy

London – The First Theatres – 1378 – Parish Clubs

This article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery – it covers the history of London’s theatres from the 1100s through to the 1800s.

London – The First Theatres – 1378 – Parish Clubs

The mysteries were succeeded by the moralities, which made a nearer approach to dramatic representation. They were, as Mr. Hone, in his work on Ancient Mysteries, observes, “dramatic allegories, in which the characters personify certain vices or virtues, with the intent to inforce some moral or religious principle. “A curious copy of one of those moralities, entitled the “Castle of Good Perseverance,” was formerly in the library of the late  Dr. Cox Macro, the first leaf of which contains not only directions to the players, but the colour of the dresses they shall wear. The three daughters are denoted to be clad, “i metelys,” that is appropriately; Mercy with righteousness in red altogether, Truth in sad green, and Peace all in black; and the person that plays Belial is particularly cautioned to have gunpowder burning in pipes in his hands, eyes, and other places when he goeth to battle.

When the reformation took place, mysteries and moralities, which had been expressly employed in favour of the Roman Catholic religion, were resorted to in order to overturn it, and was found a good auxiliary for such a purpose.

The parish clubs appear to have been rivalled in the performing of mysteries and moralities by “the children of Powles,” as a body of juvenile actors, to whom the English drama is considerably indebted, was called. They can be traced back as far as the year 1378, when they petitioned Richard II. to prohibit ignorant persons from acting the history of the Old Testament, as they had been at great expense in preparing it for the ensuing Christmas. The place of exhibition was generally their school room near St. Paul’s, where they continued to act their mysteries and moralities until the year 1580, when, on account of the plague, all interludes were prohibited and the house pulled down. The price of admission was about two pence. The children of Paul’s sometimes exhibited before Queen Elizabeth at Whitehall and Greenwich, and after their school had been erased to the ground they performed at Blackfriars.

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

William Shakespeare on Wikipedia

The Globe Theatre on Wikipedia

Sholto and Rueben Percy

London – The First Theatres – 1240 – Clerkenwell

This article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery – it covers the history of London’s theatres from the 1100s through to the 1800s.

London – The First Theatres – 1240 – Clerkenwell

The most eminent performers of the ancient mysteries in London were the parish clerks, who were incorporated about the year 1240; and one of the principal scenes of these exhibitions was at the Skinner’s Well, in Rag-street, or, as it is now called, Ray-street, Clerkenwell. One of the most remarkable of these mysteries, as has already been stated, was performed here on the 18th, 19th, and 20th of July, 1391, when they had for an audience Richard the Second, his queen and court. Another mystery on a more extended scale was performed here in 1409, before Henry the Fourth, several nobles, and the principal citizens: one of the mysteries was founded on the creation of the world, and the performances were extended to eight days.

Few, in London, are the memorials of the olden time that are preserved on modern buildings, a circumstance which is much regretted; to the honour, however, of the inhabitants of Clerkenwell, they have recorded the celebrity which the parish once possessed, by causing the following inscription to be placed in letters of iron on the pump on the east side of Raystreet.

“A.D. 1800. WILLIAM BOUND, JOSEPH BIRD, Churchwardens. For the better accommodation of the neighbourhood, this pump was removed to the spot where it now stands.

The spring by which it is supplied is situated four feet eastward, and round it, as history informs us, the parish clerks of London, in remote ages, commonly performed sacred plays. That custom caused it to be denominated Clerk’s well, and from whence this parish derived its name.

The water was greatly esteemed by the prior and brethren of the order of St John of Jerusalem and the Benedictine nuns in the neighbourhood.

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

William Shakespeare on Wikipedia

The Globe Theatre on Wikipedia

Sholto and Rueben Percy

London – The First Theatres – 1110 – Mysteries & Moralities

This article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery – it covers the history of London’s theatres from the 1100s through to the 1800s.

 

London – The First Theatres – 1110 – Mysteries & Moralities

Rude as the early dramatic and scenic representations in the metropolis may now seem, they were proofs of an advance in intellectual knowledge and refinement of manners beyond those of our continental neighbours. To England, Germany was indebted for the drama, and in France it only became worthy of notice half a century after Shakespeare had raised it to its zenith of glory in England.

The mysteries, those precursors of the regular drama, which consisted of dramatic representations of religious subjects, either from the Old or New Testament, apocryphal story, or lives of the saints, are clearly proved to have been known in this country in the year 1110, which is more than a century earlier than the first record of them in Italy, where, according to  Dr. Burney, they were not known until the year 1243, when a spiritual comedy was represented at Padua. Matthew of Paris relates, that in the year 1110, Geoffrey, a learned Norman master of the school of the abbey of Dunstable, composed the play of St. Catherine, which was acted by his scholars; and Fitz-stephen, who wrote in 1174, speaks of the mysteries as quite common in the metropolis: “London,” he says, “for its theatrical exhibitions has religious plays, either the representations of miracles wrought by holy confessors, or the sufferings of martyrs.”

That the mysteries were one of the means used by the priests to sustain the Roman Catholic religion, is evident from the pope granting pardons and indulgences to those who attended some mysteries that were represented at Chester about the year 1398. By this time they had become so popular that the audience wished to have them in English, and it is related in one of the Harleian MS. in the British Museum, that the author of the Chester plays, Ranolph Higden, “was thrice at Rome before he could obtain leave of the pope to have them in the English tongue;”  the objection of the pope was no doubt that which the Roman Catholic church so often feels against the people being acquainted with the sacred Scriptures. The inference from this is, that the ancient mysteries were performed in Latin, and yet neither Matthew of Paris nor Fitz-stephen assert this.

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

William Shakespeare on Wikipedia

The Globe Theatre on Wikipedia

Sholto and Rueben Percy

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1868 – New Zealand

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 The Galatea.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1868 – New Zealand

In New Zealand, we went up to the White Springs and we all bathed with the Maories. You stand in the water warm as milk, close beside springs of boiling water, and occasionally a jet of steam makes you jump. The person of one of the guests, a very portly gentleman, suggested a practical joke to the Maori boys and girls, who dived in and swam up to him under water, pinched him and swam away with yells of laughter. The old boy, determined to preserve harmony, endured the torment with an agonised pretence of enjoyment.

“Very playful, very playful” he kept miserably repeating.

“Oh, very playful indeed. Tanaqui (how do you do), Tanaqui.”

We had an excellent lunch, of pig, fowls, and yams, all boiled on the spot in the hot springs. I saw a live pig chased by some Maori children into a hot spring, and it was boiled in a moment.

In this region I rode over soil which was exactly like dust-shot; the whole ground apparently consisting of ore. We visited the White Terraces, where, if you wrote your name in pencil upon the cliffs, the silicate would preserve the legend as if it were raised or embroidered. Some of the signatures had been there for years. I have since heard that the place was destroyed by volcanic eruption.

We witnessed the weird and magnificent war dances of the Maoris. Never have I seen finer specimens of humanity than these men. When, after leaping simultaneously into the air, they all came to the ground together, the impact sounded like the report of a gun. A party of the Chiefs came to pay a ceremonial visit to the Duke. It struck me that they looked hungry, and I said so. They want cheering up, I said. I went to forage for them. I took a huge silver bowl, and filled it with chicken, whisky, lobster, beef, champagne, biscuits and everything else I could find, and presented it to them. You never saw warriors more delighted. They ate the whole, using their fingers, and were greatly cheered.

It was in New Zealand that I had an interesting conversation with a cannibal; or rather, an ex-cannibal. I asked him if he ever craved for human flesh, and he said no, not now; unless he happened to see a plump woman. In that case, he said he lusted for the flesh of the ball of the thumb, which (he gave me to understand) was the prime delicacy.

Some of the half-caste women were of great beauty. Their savage blood endowed them with something of the untamed, implacable aspect of their ancestry. I heard of one such woman, who, outwardly attuned to every tenet of white civilisation, and received everywhere in white society. A native rebellion breaking out, she rejoined her tribe and slew a missionary with her meri –  the native chiefs badge of office. She cut off the top of the missionary’s skull, and used it thereafter as a drinking-vessel. Poor lady, she was (I heard) eventually captured and was executed.

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 Galatea on Wikipedia

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