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possess of providing these wooden bulwarks with their living garrisons and intelligent armament. In short, to express in a single sentence the verdict we should be disposed to give on the evidence we are about to lay before our readers, we entertain no doubt that the materiel of the British navy is superior in the proportion of 2 or 3 to 1 to that of France; but the resources of France in the personnel of the navy are so much more available and complete than our own, by reason of the absolute command which the State retains over the whole seafaring population, that this advantage in some degree counterbalances the other causes of inferiority in the maritime forces of France. In these, and all similar questions, it will be found that the truth stripped of all disguise is the most valuable lesson and the safest guide. We see no reason to infer from the evidence contained in these volumes that the relative maritime superiority of England is essentially diminished by the present state and strength of the French navy; but, on the other hand, this inquiry demonstrates that our neighbours have fully considered, and deliberately adopted, all that would in case of war be most injurious to the commerce and the territory of Great Britain; that they contemplate a change in the principles of maritime warfare, expressly directed against this country; and that they are not dismayed by the vast outlay and prolonged exertions which can alone give effect to their plans. A more conclusive answer cannot be imagined to the vague declamation of the Peace Society; and though these statements do not materially increase our apprehensions, they ought most unquestionably to silence such objections and to stimulate all our exertions.
The first point to which the attention of the Commission was directed was the actual strength to be given to the navy. “We 'must first establish,' said M. Collas, the Secretary, 'the number
of ships of the line that France can and ought to put to sea the day that war is declared. On this head, we have a certain basis. Our adversary is known. It can only be England.' The ordinance passed in 1846 for the regulation of the French navy, fixed its standard amount at 40 line-of-battle ships, 50 frigates, 40 corvettes, 50 brigs, 16 transports, and 30 light vessels; and in fact, reckoning the vessels now in process of construction and some of those which still figure in the navy list although they are said to be no longer serviceable and seaworthy, this number is considerably exceeded, but of the 27 line-of-battle ships now afloat, not more than half are available for all the purposes of war. We must therefore draw a wide distinction between the establishment of the navy under the ordinance of 1846, as it figures on paper, and the materiel of the
fleet which might be sent to sea. But there is some obscurity on this subject. It is a circumstance worthy of remark that the French Annuaire de la Marine,' for 1853, no longer contains the information which we find in the preceding annual volumes. It publishes the names and rank of the personnel of the navy, but no account of the ships in commission or in ordinary. The important article · Etat des batimens composant la ' flotte,” is omitted altogether; and this is the first volume of the · Annuaire'issued by the Imprimerie Impériale. Although, therefore, a considerable portion of the line-of-battle ships and frigates, discussed by the Commission, were doomed to be sold (not broken up) to make way for improved vessels, we are by no means sure that they are as incapable of service as they are represented to be. Some of the vessels above named as condemned, in 1851, are at this moment with Admiral La Susse's squadron in the Turkish waters.
M. Binet, the director of the naval works at Toulon, stated however to the Commission that all the ships in commission at Toulon, except the Diadem ’ and the · Montebello ' were then (1851) ready for sea, and that in two months the · Ville de Marseille,' the Duperré,' the Souverain,' the Marengo,' and the · Alger,' could be made rendy. These vessels are all classed by M. Collas in the number of ships not worth the application of steam power, and not likely to last more than four years. The • Fleurus,' the Fontenoy,' the Sibylle,' and the Janus,' are
. . new ships, which might be launched in two months, and equipped in two or three more, but without steam power.
The statements of the strength of the fleet given by different witnesses and members of the Committee differ a good deal, but we take that of M. Daru as the most comprehensive :
- 21 Steam corvettes of 400 to 220 horse-power - 29 Avisos of 160 to 120 horse-power
It will be observed that this list includes 38 sailing transports, and from 15 to 20 paddle-wheel steamers, which can only be regarded as steam transports, for they have no effective armament and have not the means of carrying one. Of ships of the line, 27 are now afloat; but many of them are extremely old ships. The Océan,' which figures at the head of the list, is a 120-gun ship, launched at Brest in 1790. The Montebello,' another 120-gun ship, to which a screw propeller of 150 horse-power has lately been fitted, was launched in 1811; the 'Souverain,' in 1819. But about a dozen ships of the line have been launched in the last seven years, and the Commission recommended that 15 of the ships in course of construction should severally be so far advanced as to be brought forward at the rate of, at least, two a year in time of peace. It is the custom of the French dockyards to keep a considerable number of vessels on the stocks for a very long period. Thus the Louis XIV.' at Rochefort, now advanced to 18-24ths, was laid down in 1811; the · Fleurus,' now at 22-24ths, was begun in 1825; the · Ulm,' now at 18-24ths, at the same time; the
Austerlitz,' just launched at Cherbourg, was laid down in 1832; and only five vessels have been commenced later than 1835. Upon a survey of the fleet, it was unanimously decided by the Commission, that of the 27 ships then afloat, 14 should be fitted with steam propellers, the remaining 13 not being worth that amount of repair and alteration ; indeed their average duration was considered in 1851 not to exceed four years: it was further determined that the number of ships of the line afloat should be raised to 30 by launching new vessels all adapted for steam propulsion. Fifteen vessels would still remain in construction, making the whole force of line-of-battle ships 45. The present force of ships of the line provided with steam power in the French fleet is, however, only 4. The Napoleon,' a 90-gun ship of great excellence and power; the · Austerlitz,' a new ship whose performances are not yet known; the Charle
magne,' a 90-gun ship, with a steam power of 450 horses ; and the · Montebello,' with engines of only 150 horse-power, which may serve to direct the ship, but scarcely to propel it. Three of these vessels form part of the French squadron now in the Levant, and without any desire to disparage their qualities, we find that on a late occasion the · Napoleon'took in so much water that she was twice obliged to touch at friendly ports, on her way from Toulon to Athens, and the Charlemagne' and Montebello' had no opportunity of displaying their merits under steam, because, having left Toulon in great haste, an essential portion of their machinery was left on shore; and the latter ship has just been superseded by the · Friedland.' The · Desaix and the Arcole,' two 100-gun screw ships, have just been laid down at Cherbourg, but cannot be ready for sea for some years. We do not intend to institute as we proceed a strict comparison between the French navy and our own resources; but, as we have touched on this part of the subject, it will be satisfactory to our readers to learn, that exclusive of our block-ships, the British navy possesses 15 line-of-battle ships fitted with screw propellers, which will all be launched before the close of this summer, a result which is due mainly
* It remains to be ascertained by experience whether the application of the immense steam force necessary to propel such vessels a3 the Napoleon' with great velocity is consistent with the safety and durability of the ship. A screw placed in the deadwood of the ship, and working up to 1500 horse-power against an immense displacement of water and the strain of the ocean, acts with tremendous power on the frame of the vessel ; and it is, perhaps, to this cause that the leakage of the Napoleon' may be attributed. As this vessel is an experiment of great importance in marine engineering, we subjoin the following particulars of her trial-performances, which we have obtained from the books of her principal engineer :
• Essai du 1. Sept. 1852, de Toulon à Ajaccio, 119 milles en '9h. 48m.- Vitesse moyenne, 12 neuds; 14 en calme ou faible brise;
le nombre des tours de la machine par minute est de 22–64. Moyenne du log, 12:51 neuds par heure. Le batiment a 8 chaudières, . et brûle avec toute sa puissance de 95 à 100 tons de coal en 24 heures. Avec la moitié de l'appareil évaporatoire on obtint 9-5 à 10 neuds, la consommation de charbon par heure etant de 2100 kil.'
The ‘Napoleon' had on board at the time of this trial her full armament, stores, and crew. We are informed that she has 40 fires to her 8 boilers, and 120 fire and enginemen. Although her armament is considerably lighter than that of H. M. S. · Agamemnon,' we apprehend that the • Napoleon' cannot carry coal for more than nine days, and consequently could not perform a voyage under steam from Toulon to New York.
to the energy and ability of the Surveyor of the Navy, Sir Baldwin Walker.
In the sitting of the Committee of the 12th February 1851, it was resolved unanimously, that 20 frigates of the first class should be built for steam-power à grande vitesse; and that as many other frigates as possible should be fitted with auxiliary screw-propellers to escort swift sailing vessels which might * ' convey troops for disembarkation. The present force of the French navy in frigates afloat, chiefly of 60 and 50 guns, amounts to no less than 38, of which, however, a small proportion are commissioned in time of peace, only one is fitted with steam power, and 18 according to M. Collas are fit only to be sold. But we suspect a great part of these frigates are useful vessels for purposes to be shortly more minutely described. The corvette force was fixed at 50 vessels to be fitted as far as possible with screw-propellers. Sailing vessels for the transport of troops are to be abolished, and 20 steam-propelled transports of large size, capable of conveying 1000 men each, kept in readiness. Of these transports, which are paddle steamers originally built for another purpose, the ‘Descartes' is the best specimen. She has carried 1200 men with all their munitions and baggage, and makes her passages between Toulon and Algiers in forty hours with that force on board at an expense not exceeding 10,000 francs. The · Labrador,' in the expedition to Rome, carried 110 horses, 700 men, and several field
The · Montezuma' carried, on one occasion, 1800 men, 11 horses and baggage. These vessels, however, can only carry coal for six or seven days, though they were built to cross the Atlantic ; and they are such bad sailers, that it is in evidence, that if their machinery broke down, they would probably be unable to work off the shore if the wind or sea were at all against them. Several of them have already been lost. It has been justly remarked by Sir
Howard Douglas in his observations on this evidence, that the French do not propose to raise their feet of line-of-battle ships to the strength it possessed before the Revolution. In 1788 France had 88 ships of the line, and even Napoleon, after the battle of Trafalgar, in 1809, had 32 ships of the line afloat and 21 building. But the nature of the preparations for maritime warfare recommended by this Committee are of a different character. They rely for the success of their flag in future hostilities, especially with this country, on the number and velocity of their smaller vessels, and on the capacity and power of their steam transports. For the objects proposed are to harass the enemy in his foreign trade and on his coasts, carefully avoiding