Imatges de pÓgina
[ocr errors]


Pay per Annum in

U.S. Navy.

£22 3 8
Ordinary Seamen

• 24 12 6 Able

29 11 Petty Officers, 1st class

44 6 6 But, however popular we make the navy, the broad fact remains staring us in the face, that there are only about 21,000 seamen available for service to be found in the Kingdom at any one time, exclusively of those actually serving; and at the same time there are 53,600 seamen protected from compulsory service, besides a large number of seafaring men, who are not registered seamen under the provisions of the Act 7 & 8 Victoria, c. 112. It is therefore clear that no system of volunteering, or even the press, would supply the immediate wants of the navy on the outbreak of war. This alarming condition, which has for several years engaged the attention of many distinguished officers and friends of the navy, is now, we trust, in a fair way of being remedied.

Before we notice the measures which have been adopted to create a supply of seamen for the defence of the coasts and ports of this Kingdom, we will refer to an article in our last Number, founded on the Enquête Parlementaire 'made into the state of the French navy in 1850.

It appears that so long since as 1668, the system of registering seamen was established in France, for the purposes of maritime conscription. This system was amended in 1790, and again in 1835, and is perfectly adapted to its end, but is entirely compulsory.

“The permanent levy includes all seamen from 20 to 40, and officers of the merchant service to 45 (years of age), not having previously served. The next class consists of men who have not served above four years; and beyond that the whole maritime population may be raised. After thirty-six months' service, the officers and men are entitled to their liberty till called on to serve again; and after six years, they are no longer liable to the ordinary levies.'

The result is, that the French Government can call into immediate service a body of trained seamen sufficient to man every ship in the fleet.

Such a system of compulsory service is absolutely impossible for this country, where impressment, even in the greatest emergency, would be looked upon, by many persons, with an evil eye; the Government has therefore had recourse to a plan by which a sort of maritime militia is to be trained, and certain other classes of seafaring men are to be liable to be called on to serve; of the success of which plan we entertain the most sanguine hopes and expectations; and which will produce a body of about 20,000 men in the hour of need.

An Act passed in the late Session empowers the Admiralty to raise 10,000 men from among the seafaring population, to be termed · Naval Coast Volunteers.' These men are to be entered for five years, to receive a bounty of 61. a man, and the pay of able seamen, while serving. They are to be trained and exercised on shore, or on board ship within fifty leagues of the coast during twenty-eight days in every year; and to be called into active service by royal proclamation, the term of war-service being one year, which may be extended under exigency; and they may then be employed 100 leagues from the coast of the United Kingdom. They are to be exempt from all other service during the time they belong to the volunteers.

It is also enacted, that, under the like circumstances, the coast guard, the seamen riggers in the dockyards, navy pensioners, and seafaring men employed under the Board of Customs, and other public departments, shall be called into active service on board the fleet.

This measure, with the extension of the term of service in the navy, will, we believe, put this country in such a position, that, on any sudden or unforeseen emergency, we shall be enabled to man a fleet in as short a time as our neighbours; and we are confident, that, with the exception of the very bigoted or very ignorant, but one opinion can prevail amongst us as to their great merit and utility.

Something we would have said of the desirableness of the mercantile ports being able to provide vessels to assist in the defence of the coast. The steam-tugs, at least, ought to be capable of acting as gun-boats; and we fear that not one per cent. of the mercantile steam-fleet is able to carry ordnance, including even the Ocean mail steamers, whose owners are mostly bound by their contracts to build ships capable of bearing an armament, -- but we have already passed our limits and must conclude; not doubting that this important point is receiving the consideration due to it from those in authority. We hope that every reader will be as well satisfied with the progress made in providing what we have termed a good National Insurance, as we are ourselves.

[ocr errors]

Art. V.- History of Greece. By GEORGE GROTE, Esq.

Vols ix. x. xi. London: 1852-53. In his eighth volume, Mr. Grote brought the narrative of

Grecian History to its great turning point-the subjugation of Athens by the Spartans and their confederates; including, as the immediate sequel of that event, the sanguinary tyranny of the Thirty - the rapid reaction in Grecian feeling the return of the exiles under Thrasybulus, subsequently known at Athens by the designation of those from Phyle' or 'those from Piræus' - the restoration of Athens, under the tolerance of Sparta, to internal freedom though denuded of empire, and the inauguration of a new era of concord by the healing measures which made the archonship of Euclides memorable to succeeding generations. The recital of these stirring events was immediately followed by those admirable chapters on the Sophists and on Socrates, which may be pronounced the most important portion yet written of this History; whether we consider the intrinsic interest of their subjects — the deep-rooted historical errors which they tend to dispel -or the great permanent instruction contained in their display of the characteristics of one of the most eminent men who ever lived -a man unique in history, of a kind at all times needful, and seldom more needed than now.

The three volumes which we have here to notice contain no delineations belonging to the same elevated rank with that which closed so impressively the volume immediately preceding. The exposition and estimate of Plato, which alone would have afforded similar opportunities, though falling within the chronological period comprised in the eleventh volume, is not included in it, but reserved for one yet to come; except in so far as the philosopher is personally involved in the series of Sicilian transactions, through his connexion with Dion, whose remarkable and eminently tragic character and career form the centre of interest in the most striking chapter of these volumes. There is little scope in this portion of the work for bringing prominently forward any great ethical or philosophical idens ; and the illustrations it contains of Grecian character and institutions relate principally to points which the author had largely illustrated before. In no other part of the book is the continuity of the narrative so little broken by dissertation or discussion; but in the rapid succession of animating incidents, and the living display of interesting individual characters, these volumes are not inferior to any of the preceding.


They commence with the expedition of Cyrus, and the retreat of Xenophon and the Ten Thousand: an episode fertile in exemplifications of Grecian and of Asiatic characteristics, and especially valuable as being the only detailed account of the personal adventures of any body of Greeks, or even of any individual Greek, which has been directly transmitted to us by an eye-witness and actor. Next follows the history of the short-lived Lacedæmonian ascendancy ; its deplorable abuse, and the conspicuous Nemesis which fell on that selfish and domineering community, by the irreparable prostration of her power through the arms of Thebes, so many years the firm ally of Sparta, and for her treacherous conduct to whom, even more than for any other of her misdeeds, she, in the general opinion of Greece, deserved her fate. The chapters which describe this contest, relate also the resurrection of Athens, and her reattainment, in diminished measure and for a brief period, of something like imperial dignity. At this halting-place Mr. Grote suspends the main course of his narrative, and takes up the thread of the history of the Sicilian Greeks; the most interesting part of whose story is included in the present volumes. He illustrates, by the conduct and fortunes of the elder Dionysius, the successive stages of the despot's progress.' Here, too, the avenging Nemesis attends ; but, as usual with the misdeeds of rulers, the punishment is vicarious. The younger Dionysius, a weak and self-indulgent but good-natured and rather wellmeaning inheritor of despotic power, suffered the penalty of the usurpation and the multiplied tyrannies of his energetic and unscrupulous father. The decline and fall of the Dionysian dynasty, and the restoration of Sicilian freedom, are related by Mr. Grote in his best style of ethical narrative, and with a biographical interest equal to the historical. For, as the chapters on the fall of Sparta are animated and exalted by the great qualities of Epaminondas—the first of Greeks in military genius, surpassed only by Pericles in comprehensive statesmanship, yet even more honourably distinguished among Grecian politicians by the unostentatious disinterestedness of his public virtue, and the gentleness and generosity of his sentiments towards opponents; so the Sicilian chapters are lighted up, first by the high-minded but chequered, and even in his errors eminently interesting, character of Dion, and afterwards by the steadier and more unmixed brilliancy of the real liberator of Sicily, the wise, just, and heroic Timoleon. Last comes that gloomy period of Grecian history, the age

of Philip of Macedon : during which, enfeebled by the long and destructive wars which had successively prostrated every one of her leading states, Greece fell a prey to an able and enterprising neighbour, who, at the head of a numerous population of hardy warriors implicitly obedient to his will, was enabled to turn her own military arts and discipline against herself. At the time when Philip commenced his career of aggrandisement, the only Grecian state in a condition to meet him with anything like equality of strength was Athens ; still free and prosperous, but so lowered in public spirit and moral energy, that she threw away all her opportunities, and only rallied with a vigour worthy of her ancestors when it was too late to do more than perish honourably. These sad events, so far as their course can be traced through the extreme imperfection of our information, are related by Mr. Grote down to the fatal day of Chæroneia. And neither is this melancholy recital destitute of the relief afforded by the appearance on the scene of an illustrious character. Even in that age Athens possessed a man, of whom posterity has ratified the proud boast, drawn from him in selfvindication, that if there had been one such man in every state of Greece, or even in Thessaly and Arcadia only, the attempts of Philip to bring the Greeks to subjugation would have been frustrated. What one man, of boundless energy, far-reaching political vision, and an eloquence unmatched even at Athens, could do to save Greece from an inevitable doom, Demosthenes did. His life was an incessant struggle against the fatality of the time, and the weaknesses of his countrymen. And though he failed in his object, and perished with the last breath of the freedom for which he had lived, he has been rewarded by that immortal fame, which, as he reminded the Athenians in the most celebrated passage of his greatest oration, is not deserved only by the successful; and which he merited not more by his unequalled oratorical eminence, than by the fact, that not one mean, or selfish, or narrow, or ungenerous sentiment is appealed to throughout those splendid addresses, in which he strove to rouse and nerve his countrymen to the contest, or proudly mourned over its unsuccessful issue.

The Chæroneian catastrophe closes the epoch of Grecian history. Though much that is highly interesting remains, its interest is derived from other sources; the diffusion of Greek civilisation through the Eastern nations by the expedition of Alexander and its consequences, and a few noble but vain efforts, against insuperable obstacles, in Greece itself, to regain a freedom and national independence irrecoverably lost. Of the period of Grecian greatness, we have now from Mr. Grote the completed history. We have the budding, the blossoming, and the decay and death. The fruits which survived the per

« AnteriorContinua »