Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Adm.
Ekins's

[ocr errors]

1805. the author of " Naval Battles" must have been
Oct. satisfied, because it is so stated in the quotation

which he himself makes from the log of the Belle-
rophon. *

The argument, about the british ships
tailing away” because of their inequality of sail-
ing, can hold good only until it is known that,
with the exception perhaps of the Royal-Sovereign,
Belleisle, Victory, and Téméraire, the ships in the
two principal divisions sailed nearly alike. And
with respect to the Britannia, Prince, and Dread-
nought, whose slowness was far more conspicuous
than the velocity of the ships just named, they were
allowed to depart from the prescribed order of sail-
ing in line ahead, that they might steer obliquely
between the two columns, and by that means get
more of their sails to draw.

Having thus, as we conceive, shown the fallacy of plans. the premises, by which a tactical writer of the pre

sent day has hoped to throw a new light upon a cele-
brated naval battle fought 20 years ago, we shall
merely observe, that his remaining statements are,
for the most part, equally ill founded. As to the“ six
plans of the battle, delineated by the same hand, to the
accuracy of which, many who were engaged have
borne testimony,” + if the three plans not published
tend as little to “illustrate” this great victory, as
the three which the writer has selected for his work,
a great deal of pains and expense has been be-
stowed to a very little purpose. The three plans
selected are the fourth, fifth, and sixth, representing
different periods of the action, from the moment the
combined van began wearing, to the termination of
the battle by the capture of the Neptuno. In every
one of these plans, the Victory is represented clear
of the Redoutable, but upon the starboard tack,
with her head to the southward. The Agamemnon
is shifted from the weather, to the lee column; and
equally misplaced in their relative positions are the
Orion, Africa, and their gallant opponent, the Intré-
* Ekins's Naval Battles, p. 284,

+ Ibid. p. 271.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

ed represen

pide. In short there is scarcely a ship, among those 1805. of the British especially, that seems to be in her proper Oct. situation. Nor are these plans little unpretending sketches, but large and costly copper-plate engravings, by their imposing size, numerous figures, and laboured appearance, calculated to inthral the judgment, and to divert, if not to defy, the efforts of criticism.

If a printed mistatement upon an important point Paintof history may be justifiably set right, have we not an equal privilege over a painted mistatement of the tations same nature; especially when produced under circumstances the most likely of any to inspire a confidence in its accuracy? Previously to our submitting any remarks upon the merits of the painting of the Victory going into, or (for, as we shall presently see, it is doubtful which is meant) coming out of, the battle of Trafalgar, we will endeavour to relate how it happened that that distinguished artist, Mr. J.M.W. Turner, of the Royal Academy, became engaged to trace with his powerful pencil so interesting an epocha in british naval history; a subject which, well executed, would, we conceive, have done that gentleman as much honour as any of his previous performances.

Soon after the battle of the 1st of June the justly M. de celebrated marine painter, P.J.de Loutherbourg, was Louemployed by some enterprising individual to repre-bourg's sent the Queen-Charlotte engaging the Montagne. picture In about four years the picture, which measured 12 feet by eight and a half, and cost, we believe, 5001. was completed, and soon afterwards exhibited to the public. Without descending to minutiæ, the grand mistake in it was, that the Queen-Charlotte was placed where lord Howe wanted to get, but never could get, a little before the lee beam of his antagonist. Among others, the officer, whose duty it was (and who would have succeeded, but for the hasty flight of the Montagne and the loss of the Charlotte's fore topmast*)

* See vol, i. p. 212,

Oct.

1806, to place the british ship in the desired position,

went to see the picture. At the first glance the gallant seaman pronounced the picture a libel upon the Queen-Charlotte ; inasmuch as, had 'she been in the position represented, it would have been her fault for letting the Montagne escape. Whether it was owing to this capital blemish, or to the half a dozen minor offences against truth in different parts of it, we cannot say, but the picture gradually sank into disreputė, and eventually became, we believe, lodged with an eminent printseller for some debt amounting to less than a third of its prime cost. After lying rolled up in a corner of one of his rooms, encased in dust, for a number of years, the printseller was fortunate enough, as we have understood, to find a purchaser in his present majesty's surveyorgeneral of the Board of Works.

The painting, thus restored to credit and the light, was intended to be hung up, as a national memento of the naval victory to which it relates, in the council-room of St. James's palace. As a companion to it, a picture was required, representing the Victory engaged in the battle of Trafalgar. The first marine painter of the day undertook the task; and, in due time, the large area of canvass, which, to correspond with the other picture, became necessary for this, was covered with all the varied tints which Mr. Turner knows so well how to mingle and combine, to give effect to his pictures and excite the admiration of the beholder.

Unfortunately for the subject which this splendid Tur- picture is meant to represent, scarcely a line of picture truth, beyond perhaps the broadside view of the Victory's hull, is to be seen upon it. To say

what time of the day, or what particular incident in the Victory's proceedings, is meant to be referred to, we do not pretend; for the telegraphic message is going up, which was hoisted at about 11 h. 40m. A. M., the mizen topmast is falling, which went about 1 PiMu, a strong light is reflected upon the Victory's bow

Mr.

inaccuracy.

and sides from the burning Achille, which ship did 1805. not catch fire until 4 h. 30 m., nor explode until Oct. 5 h. 45 m. P. M., the fore topmast, or rather, if our memory is correct, the foremast, of the british threedecker is falling, which never fell at all, and the Redoutable is sinking under the bows of the Victory, although the french ship did not sink until the night of the 22d, and then under the stern of the Swiftsure.

We are sorry to be obliged to add that, with all these glaring falsehoods and palpable inconsistencies upon it, the picture stands, or until very lately did stand, in that room of the king's palace, for which it was originally designed. The principal reason urged for Alleged giving to this very costly and highly honoured of its performance so preposterous an appearance, is that an adherence to truth would have destroyed the pictorial effect. Here is a ship, shattered in her hull, and stripped of the best part of her sails, pushing into a cluster of enemy's ships without a gražed plank or a torn piece of canvass, to fire her first gun. Here is symbolized the first of naval heroes, with chivalric valour, devoting himself to his country's cause; and yet, says an artist of high repute, “there is' a lack of pictorial materials.” We hope some Want public-spirited individual, if not the state itself, will show whether this is really the case; for it is picture almost a national disgrace that there should yet be subject. wanted a picture which, in accuracy of representation, no less than in strength and brilliancy of execution, is calculated to illustrate, and to stand as a lasting memorial of, one of the greatest sea-battles that ever has been, or that perhaps ever will be fought: a battle to the success of which England at this time owes, if not her political existence, her prosperity, happiness, and exalted station. To any artist, who may consider it worth his Hint to

paintwhile, or within his powers, to attempt such a picture, the following remarks, in addition to those he will find a few pages back,* may not be unuseful.

* See pp. 49, 50, 56, 57, and 85.

of a

good

ers.

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Col

off Cadiz.

1805. Let his point of view be the small cross in the
Oct. diagram at p. 57. He will then have, for his two,

principal figures, the Victory on the right, and the
Bucentaure on the left. Behind these will be the
Neptune and Redoubtable; both firing, the latter
her foremost guns, the former her whole broadside, ,
right into the bows of the Victory. On the extreme
right of the picture will be the bows of the Témé-
raire, and on the extreme left, the stern and quar-
tergalleries of the Santisima-Trinidad. Quite in
the foreground may be represented the boat, which
a shot had cut adrift a few minutes before. With
this hint to the painter, we end our long, but, we hope,

not uninteresting account of the battle of Trafalgar. Lord Vice-admiral lord Collingwood, now the com

mander in chief of the Mediterranean fleet, con-
ling-
wood tinued throughout the greater part of the remainder

of the year at his station off Cadiz, watching the
10 or 11 shattered enemy's ships that lay at anchor
within it._Four days after the action, vice-admiral
François-Etienne Rosily arrived at the port direct
from Paris, to supersede vice-admiral Villeneuve in

the command. Instead of 18 fine fresh ships, the Adm. new admiral found five disabled ones, or rather four, Rosily the Héros having considerately kept herself in so effisedes cient a state, that she was able at once to hoist the adme- flag of admiral Rosily, and even to carry him to sea, neuve. had such been his intention, and no blockading force

been cruising off the harbour. There are still four
ships of the combined fleet present at the battle of
Trafalgar, whose movements require to be traced.
These, it will be recollected, were the four french
ships that escaped to the southward, under the com-
mand of rear-admiral Dumanoir, in the 80-gun ship

Formidable.
Squa Having by dark on the day of the battle gained a
dron of safe offing, M. Dumanoir commenced repairing the
manoir few damages which his squadron had sustained ;

few, indeed, for his ships, in making off, carried
royals upon a wind, and to the British, who were

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »