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enabled himself to become useful to his country, or he who has performed some signal service to the state, may justly complain if the prince overlooks him in order to advance useless men without merit." There is frequent occasion for applying this sentiment in the navy, when age and accidental position on the list are above all talent, all virtue, all deeds. We are not prepared at present to advance the principle of promotion by merit; a principle, which, though attended in its operation with formidable difficulties, strict justice and the best interests of the state distinctly recommend. In time of war, it will secure its own recognition. But a retired list will in some measure counteract the blind disregard of merit which follows upon promotion by seniority, that mechanical system, which recompenses the worthless, and retards the meritorious; which awards to idleness and industry, to tameness and ambition, the same meed; which gives the hire of the laborer, who has borne the burden and heat of the day, to him who has stood all the day idle in the market-place.
The English maxim (and English naval maxims are precious) is, "Old men for admirals, and young men for captains." We cannot act up to the letter of the latter part. But, that we may partly fulfil its spirit, we must insist upon the right and duty of selection for commands being exercised by the department. An officer who has been suspended for corruption, who has been removed from his post for peculation, or who is notorious for drunkenness, or the brutal treatment of seamen, is incapable of performing the duties of a command, and is unworthy to represent abroad the American name and character.
It is desirable to provide for the useful occupation of as many officers as possible, in order that a sufficient number may be retained to meet the exigency of manning the whole fleet. We accordingly suggest that officers may be profitably employed at the head of the different departments in navy-yards, as naval store-keepers at the several stations, as instructors (following the example of the Academy at West Point) of the midshipmen, as secretaries to the commanders-in-chief, as is the excellent custom in the French military marine, and on revenue service when it shall be transferred to the direction of the Navy Department.
We think that the complement of officers on board of some ships might be advantageously increased. The English un
derstand a truth, of which every day's naval experience furnishes abundant testimony, that officers are the soul of a ship. The flag-ship President, of fifty guns, on the South American station, has ten lieutenants. The flag-ship Melville, of seventy-two guns, in the East Indies, (the seat of war,) has nine lieutenants. On the lakes, the Niagara, of twenty guns only, has six; on the North American station, the Winchester, of fifty guns, has eight lieutenants; and on the Mediterranean station, the flag-ship Princess Charlotte, of one hundred and four guns, has eighteen lieutenants! (“British Navy List," January, 1841, pp. 73, 74, 76, 84.)
The organization of an ordnance corps, with an office at Washington, and proper officers, commanders or lieutenants, and gunners, at the different yards, exclusively devoted to this duty, is loudly called for by the vital necessity of having every thing relating to the great-guns, small-arms, ammunition, signals, and gunner's stores, on board of every ship, in a perfect condition. We will merely state as a lemma to this proposition, that the Ohio performed her late cruise in the Mediterranean with flint locks. The honor of the nation, the great interests of commerce, and the business accumulating from the progress of the coast-survey demand the establishment of a bureau of hydrography, where all the information connected with the navigation of the seas, and particularly with the knowledge of our own shores may be collected and preserved, and whence authentic charts may be issued for the use of the mercantile and military mariner. The geodesic operations conducted by Mr. Hassler,* eminent both as an engineer and a
* The mention of this gentleman's name reminds us of the obligations which science acknowledges to him, in this country and abroad. He has been engaged in Europe in several distinguished scientific operations, and, amongst others, (if we are not mistaken,) in the measurement of a degree of a meridian, by Méchain and Delambre, in 1790-1805. In 1826 he contributed to mathematical science a work on the "Elements of Trigonometry, Plane and Spherical," of which it is sufficient praise to say that it met the highest approbation of Dr. Bowditch. The treatise is not only complete, but philosophical. It affords in its analytic form of expression an appropriate introduction to the study of physics, and in the number and convenient tabular arrangement of its formula, which to the higher student have the merit and utility of definitions, a fertility of resources only surpassed by Delambre, in his treatise on Spherics, in the 10th chapter of his " Astronomie théorique et pratique." The question has been asked, if no native American could be found to superintend the great work with which Mr. Hassler is at present occupied. It would be enough to say, that national distinctions in science are invidious. But we may add, that if any American is capable of directing this task, he has been qualified by the instructions of Mr. Hassler; and further that Mr. Hassler is the only gentleman who can command the confi
theorist, with such signal advantage to the scientific character of this country in Europe, and which are redeeming us from the disgrace of depending upon English surveys for the navigation of our own maritime frontier, would form an adequate commencement for the labors of this office. The government owe this tribute to commerce, the principal source of the revenue of this country.
We pass over these important subjects in haste, to allow ourselves space for some remarks on the enlistment and mode of treatment of seamen, in relation to which we submit the following suggestions.
1. The service of seamen might be dated from a certain fixed day of the year on which they enter, without reference to the exact period of enlistment. The object of this is to have the terms of service of whole crews expire on the same day. Then the period necessary for a return of a ship to the United States will be pointed out; the jealousies and discontents arising from one part of a crew's being discharged, whilst another part is retained, will be avoided; the crew will look forward to the same moment of expiration of service, with uniform expectation; and the whole question of discharge, with all the difficulties growing out of the gradual breaking up of a ship's company abroad, will be adjusted.
2. The present regulations prevent the admission of young men between sixteen and twenty-one years of age, as interfering with the apprentices. The door should be freely opened, and every encouragement offered to all such persons (who are mostly Americans) to enlist.
3. Men who have once served a term in the navy, and sustained good characters, are entitled to readmittance. Instances occur of their being rejected from various causes. A man by the name of White, an excellent seaman, who performed the late cruise of the Razée Independence, was turned away from the New York rendezvous because he was not twenty-one years of age. We mention this merely as an illustration. We do not propose to dispense with the medical examination. But if a man has suffered an injury in the dence of the scientific, we mean the whole scientific, community. The slowness of the progress of the coast-survey, as of all great and durable undertakings, is commensurate with its vast importance. To estimate justly either the one or the other, it is essential to comprehend something of the profound science, mature skill, and elaborate method indispensable to its successful execution. See, on this subject, the North American Review, Vol. XLII. p. 75, et seq.
public service, he should be taken again; and, if the injury is such as to require medical treatment and disqualify him for duty, he should be sent (at his own request and without pay) to a naval hospital.
4. Contracts with seamen ought to be strictly fulfilled, particularly respecting discharges. They have (not to mince the phrase) been most frequently and shamelessly violated. Seamen are jealous of their rare but precious liberty. They should be induced to entertain confidence in the government, to feel as Americans. Let there be no appearance of a desire to break faith, and escape from agreements, a strict fulfilment of which is rigorously exacted from the weaker party. Then the moment of discharge will not be regarded as one of happy escape from prison. We must express our suspicion that five years may be considered too long a time of engagement. Seamen are a short-sighted race, and not prepared to look forward so far. One term of enlistment is also preferable to
If the above course were pursued, and the periods of service were dated from the first day of the sixth month, then a plan might be adopted of fitting out ships for foreign stations in the summer and autumn, and of ordering them home in the spring and summer. Their return would help to supply the necessary crews. Seamen would all receive their discharges at the same time, would be at home in a season better fitted for their enjoyment, would be properly provided for during the severe winters, and would come at last to understand that this was an established routine.
5. When men are discharged, their discharges might run in such a way as still to attach them to the navy; specifying, that if they presented themselves, within two or three months, at any rendezvous, receiving-ship, or station, home or foreign, they should be entitled to be reëntered, to be borne on the books at their former rates, named in the discharges, and receive pay for the intermediate months as if they had continued on duty; provided always, that they were in a good personal condition, and possessed a supply of clothing such as is required of a new recruit.
This pay for the intervening months of absence would correspond to the bounty at present allowed, with this difference, that it would be given to tried servants of the navy instead of strangers. This plan would cost no more than the present bounty; men-of-war would be recognised as the permanent home of seamen; the men would be picked,
and sifted by numerous trials; they and the officers would become well acquainted; and the former, like the latter, would consider themselves attached to the service for life.
6. Discharges ought to particularize the characters and qualifications of men; they should be of two kinds, one of which may be distinguished as the honorable discharge, and should be put upon good, durable paper. No man should be readmitted into the service unless he produced the honorable discharge. It is an object plainly to give character to the service, and to let the service give character to those who engage in it, in the humble rank of seamen.
7. The importance of confirming petty officers, and keeping them always in their rates, cannot be too strongly urged. They never should be disrated except for disability or misconduct. Now a man may perform one cruise as a petty officer in a ship of the line, and the next in a sloop-ofwar as a seaman. He has no security for continuing in his former situation. Petty officers might be advantageously divided into classes, as boatswain's mates, gunner's mates, &c., in the first class; quarter-masters, quarter-gunners, &c., in the second class; captains of the tops, &c., in the third class. This will multiply promotions, and supply a field for the ambition of the apprentices. They should be borne on the books according to classes, and then they may be promiscuously employed in the different duties of the class to which they belong. This classification would become a useful addition to the systematic economy of a man-of-war, and afford convenience in transfers.
Lastly. We propose a separate office (bureau) of enlistment, to attend to the manifold details of this system, and to record the names and descriptive lists of those who have received honorable discharges.
It is full time that systematic effort was made to ameliorate the condition of seamen in the navy. The humanity of the times demands that their mess economy should be improved, and that the spirit ration, the hateful source of all insubordination, should be abolished, and tea and coffee substituted in its stead. In the English navy the seaman receives a portion of his monthly pay, at regular intervals; it would be well if the practice were adopted into the American navy, and if the men were permitted to go on shore more frequently, so that they might learn to use this indulgence with discretion, and be treated, in this respect, with something of the same