Page images

So ex

the lead in a most gallant ex- guns he therefore retired to the ploit of the same character, car- boats, one of which he found ried out too, not only on his stove. He made good his reown initiative, but contrary to treat to the ship in the remainthe orders which his senior ing boat, not having lost a man, officer had given; for the fort and with but four wounded. in question was considered too Lyons also took part in the strong to be assailed by the successful attack by a joint small numbers available. Being naval and military expedition detached with two boats' crews, on Java. This enterprise was numbering 35 officers and men, mainly carried out by a milihe decided to attack Fort Mar- tary force of 8000 men furrack, which mounted 54 guns, nished from Madras. and had a garrison of 180 men, cellent were all the arrangebesides two gunboats' crews. ments for landing that, although

The result had better be given the squadron did not arrive in his own words ::

until the afternoon of the day

of attack, all the troops were “Having made every necessary ar on shore before nightfall

. After rangement during the day, I placed the boats at sunset behind a point a three weeks' siege the place which sheltered them from the view fell. In this instance the domiof the enemy's sentinels. At half- nant sea - power of the British past twelve, the moon sinking in the navy enabled the troops to be horizon, we proceeded to the attack, and were challenged by the sentinels spared from India, and also enon opening the point. At this in- sured them a safe passage.

passage. In stant a volley of musketry from the certain eventualities this type enemy precluded all hope of surprise ; of expedition might well be I therefore ran the boats aground, in a heavy surf, under the lower tier of repeated in the present day. guns, and placed the ladders in the A powerful navy in the East embrasures, which were mounted will always safeguard the shores with that bravery inherent in Brit- of India, thus setting free a ish seamen ; whilst a few men, placed mobile military force, without for the purpose, killed three of the which no conquest can be made. enemy in the act of putting matches

Invalided home from the East “A few minutes put us in posses- Indies, Lyons was promoted to sion of the lower battery, where I commander at the age of twentyformed the men, and we stormed the upper one. On reaching the summit one, and, after rather more than of the hill we perceived the garrison

a year on half-pay, was given drawn up to receive us. They sus the command of a sloop in the tained our fire, but fled from the Channel in 1813.

There was charge on my calling to them that but little active service in home we had 400 men and would give no

waters in those days ; for quarter.”

though the war dragged on, Lyons found it impossible to the sea - power of France was hold the fort so gallantly won, completely crushed. But even as it was at once fired upon here Lyons pushed his way to by another battery and two the front, and obtained a warm gunboats. After disabling the commendation from that excel

to the guns.



carry out


lent officer, Admiral Foley — ingratiated himself with the one of Nelson's captains at the President of Greece. Nile—for his intelligence, zeal, The state of affairs in those and activity. Peace brought days on the coast of Greece promotion to post - captain's was very similar to the presrank, mainly in recognition of ent position in Crete; and then, the approval of the Court, and as now, the final satisfactory of various magnates, whom he settlement was more due to the was directed to carry to France exertions and good sense of the for the peace negotiations. officers on the spot than to the

But peace also meant utter protocols of the Concert of stagnation in the navy. Nine- Europe. Russia, however, havtenths of the ships were paid ing declared war against Tur

and nine - tenths of the key, and having advanced as officers were relegated to half- far as Adrianople, it was pay. It was hopeless to get necessary to support the Turks. employment afloat without the Lyons' ship was selected to take most powerful interest. So for a special envoy to Constanfourteen years Lyons was left tinople, the result of the mison shore, and only got a ship sion being the establishment of then owing to the fact that his peace. Lyons then seized the younger brother lost his life at opportunity to the battle of Navarino. Thus winter cruise in the Black Sea, it was not till he was thirty- and thus gained some most useseven that he was once more at ful experience of those waters, sea, in command of the Blonde, which then, as now, were ena 46-gun frigate, destined for tirely unknown to all naval the Mediterranean. The ship officers except the Russians very quickly made her name for themselves. smartness and efficiency, and a For seven years in all Lyons number of mids. were confided commanded frigates in the to his care, for though it was Mediterranean—first the Blonde long since he had been afloat, and then the Madagascar. his capacity was well known in During this time he was almost the service. He was fortunate continually in the East. It in coming in for a little piece of was his ship that was chosen to active service in co-operating convey King Otho, the young with the French in the siege of Bavarian prince, selected by Morea Castle, which was held the Powers as first King of by the Turks, who were being Greece, to his unruly kingdom. expelled from Greece. Lyons His duties at Constantinople also subsequently managed had introduced him to a nummatters so well, when senior ber of diplomatists, and wherofficer of a small British squad- ever he went he won golden ron on the coast of Greece, as opinions by his tact and good to win the hearty goodwill of sense. It was not, therefore, the French officers with whom surprising that when his service he was associated ; and he also in the Mediterranean was over,

and the opportunity offered of gravest disaster. Preparation his being appointed British Min- for war was the last thing ister at

the Court of Greece, he thought of. The few appointaccepted it rather than the ments vacant went to men with alternative of going as flag- interest, either family or politcaptain to the South American ical, and the very fact that the station, which was also offered navy was the safeguard of the him.

country passed entirely into In the year 1835 an active- oblivion. minded man might well consider There is little to say from the it desirable to abandon the navy. naval point of view of Lyons' Lyons had been twenty-one services to diplomacy. He years a captain, and, notwith- showed the sense of duty acstanding his abilities and his quired in the navy by remaining many friends, he had been fourteen years at his post in fourteen years on half - pay. Athens without once coming His continuous employment for home. Whilst there he secured seven years had aroused jeal- the approval of various Adminisousy, as to get even three years' trations, and carried out the employment out of twenty was policy of Lord Palmerston with what many a man failed to do. that great Minister's approbaIf he was fortunate enough to tion, receiving a baronetcy in put in another three years' reward of his services. service in South America, there From Athens he was transwould still be a dozen years to ferred to Berne and thence to wait for his flag, most of which Stockholm, and it was here, in time would of necessity be spent October 1853, in anticipation in inaction on half-pay. There of the war with Russia, that seemed no chance whatever of he received his appointment as active service, and the ordinary second in command of the Medipeace service under venerable terranean station. It admirals and white-haired cap- very strange that a diplomatist, tains was not by any means who had practically left the serstirring work. It was in the vice for more than eighteen early years of the Queen's reign years, should be specially sethat our fleet had fallen into lected for such an appointsuch a low state that M. Thiers, ment.

Under the present confident that it was within the regulations, which very proppower of the French fleet to erly lay down that a captain destroy it out of hand, was who has not served for seven seeking a casus belli in order to years should be compulsorily put his plan into execution. retired, Lyons would long beMost mercifully those optimists fore have been placed on the who thought that there could Retired List. As it was, he by no possibility be any more had received his promotion to European wars were right on rear - admiral when Minister this occasion, for we were un at Berne, having gone up the doubtedly on the verge of the Active List at exactly the same


His age


[ocr errors]

rate as if continuously afloat. straightforward course would

on promotion was have been to relieve Dundas *fifty-nine, and he found him- at once few will deny. But self one of 75 rear - admirals, this Sir James was not apparmany if not most of whom ently strong enough to do. were more than seventy years He continued to correspond of age, and none at all under privately with the rear-adfifty-five, which is the maxi- miral when in the presence of mum age under present regu- his commander-in-chief, saying lations for a rear-admiral for example in one letter, dated promotion. Of the 75 only 2 September 1854, just before the were actively employed afloat, departure of the expedition to and 6 others in various har- the Crimeabour or shore appointments.

“ You are the life and soul of this It was not therefore remark- great enterprise. Long ago you have able that when three

years declared that all is ready at Malta afterwards, in 1853, Sir James and at Constantinople. ... Your part Graham, then First Lord of has been well performed : I hope that the Admiralty, was looking out

others will now proceed to rival you.

It is not the wish of Admiral Dundas for an active rear-admiral for

to remain much longer on foreign the Mediterranean, his choice service. His health is failing, and fell

upon Sir Edmund Lyons. he wishes to be relieved as soon as His commander-in-chief, Vice- it can be done consistently with his

honour. Admiral Dundas, though one

My intention is that you

should be his successor." of the youngest vice-admirals, was sixty-eight years of age : And yet Dundas was kept his service during the last forty for three months longer comyears had been mainly political; mander-in-chief. Sir Edmund he was a sound Whig and an Lyons was second in command ex-Lord of the Admiralty, but for no less than fourteen months of sea experience he had very in all

. That the navy did well little. 1 Dundas's flag - captain all that it undertook in the over sixty-five, and there Crimea was in no

sense due were other captains in the to the wisdom of the Admiralty squadron who were well be- administration. Lyons would yond the present retiring age have been more than human if of fifty-five; others again owed he had not, under these circumtheir appointments to political stances, given vent on one or interest. Sir James Graham two occasions to impatient exinformed Lyons that he was pressions concerning his comto be ready to supply Dundas's mander-in-chief; and it is explace “in case of accident.” ceedingly creditable to him that That the best and most there was no open rupture.



Kinglake tells us that the command in the Mediterranean had been granted as a pleasant marine retirement, which a good faithful Whig had earned by toil at the Board in Whitehall, by toil in the lobbies of the House of Commons, by long and enduring patience on the cushions of the Treasury Bench.

But to return to affairs in Though nominally only second the autumn of 1853, after which in command, he henceforward period Captain Eardley - Wil- practically took the lead in the mot's book becomes more of a British fleet. naval history than a biography. Captain Eardley - Wilmot He gives us no further light never mentions the force which on the so-called “massacre of the Russians had in the Black Sinope.” Why

Why the Turkish Sea, nor does it appear to ships were kept at Sinope, have much concerned the allied courting certain destruction, is fleet, since no attempt was one of those mysteries which made to ascertain either its will probably be never solved. strength or position. At the Lyons had arrived at Con- same time, comparatively weak stantinople a week before the squadrons of

of English

and disaster; but even if he or the French steamships were deother admirals had pointed out tached from the main fleets to the Turks the fatuity of to patrol the Turkish coast. their conduct, it scarcely seems Sinope was made the headlikely that they would have quarters of the Allies. It is been listened to.

interesting to note that Lyons, At this time there was not writing from this place, speaks only a council of ambassadors of the " late attack of the at Constantinople, but a council Russians." There is no indiof admirals as well. As usual, cation that the officers on the the multitude of counsellors did spot regarded the Sinope affair not tend to action, and for a as other than a most legitimate long time nothing was done. operation of war. As a matter Public opinion at home calling of fact, it much resembled the loudly for some kind of demon- recent destruction of the Spanstration, the combined French ish squadron at Manila. The and English fleets entered the cruise of the allied fleets only Black Sea on January 3, 1854, lasted three weeks, when they with the object, so the Russians returned to Constantinople. were informed, “of protecting Captain Eardley-Wilmot gives the Sultan's dominions from some interesting letters that hostile aggressions." Although passed between Lord Stratford war was not yet actually de- de Redcliffe and the admirals clared, this was virtually an on the strategical situation. act of war.

Neither the ambassador nor The author thus describes the admirals appeared to grasp Sir Edmund Lyons at this the fact that to prevent the time :

Russians from doing mischief “Though Sir Edmund Lyons had their fleet should be blockaded entered upon his sixty-fourth year, or masked, and in any case a he possessed at this period great close watch should be kept activity of mind and body. ... The


not expression of his countenance de- upon them. noted a sanguine temperament, with done, but Turkish troops and much decision of character."

stores were conveyed into the VOL, CLXV.-NO, DCCCCXCIX,



« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »