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''Thank you very much. We are very sorry to
leave you, and hope to return to assist in commemo-
rating the success of the flax and lace industries which
your Excellency has so successfully started. We
wish good fortune to St. Helena."

Eight days later the Good Hope and her consorts en-
tered the harbour of the Brazilian capital — one of the
finest as well as one of the most beautiful in the world.
It was here I learned of my promotion to Vice-AdmiraJ,
and my only feeling of regret was the prospect of sepa-
ration from the squadron which I had commanded for
so many pleasant months. Not long after came the an-
nouncement of the appointment of Eear-Admiral Ham-
ilton as my successor.

Rio is now one of the healthiest large towns in the
world, and its death-rate is no greater than that of Lon-
don or Paris. Many of the officers and men had been
revaccinated on the journey out, but it was found that
smallpox was so little to be feared in Rio that the pre-
caution might have been omitted mthout any real dan-
ger to the health of the squadron. Rio is indeed in every
sense a modern city, whose inhabitants call it, not with-
out some reason, the Paris of South America.


The Brazilian Government and the resident English
community had drawn up a splendid programme for our
entertainment. Many officers of the Brazilian Navy had
recently been to England, and the cordiality they showed
to the English sailor-men was one of the most remark-
able features of the visit.

The round of festivities opened the day after the
squadron's arrival with a picnic to Petropolis, organ-
ised by the British committee, foremost amongst whom
were Sir Milne Cheetham, the acting Charge d 'Affaires
in the absence of the Ambassador, Mr. Bax Ironside, and
Mr. A. W. A. Knox Little, Managing Director of the
Leopoldina Railway. Those who went to the picnic were
taken by steamer for about an hour to a landing place on
the coast where the rack railway starts up the mountain
on which Petropolis is situated. Once on board, the
British officers were introduced to several of the Bra-
zilian and English ladies who were waiting for them.
Acquaintanceships were soon struck up, and the Brazilian
naval officers present did all in their power to make the
newcomers feel thoroughly at home. The entire out-
ing was, in fact, enjoyable in the highest degree, and gave
all who took part in it a very warm impression of the hos-
pitality of the Brazilians.

The chief feature of the next day's programme was
another picnic, this time to Corcovado, a lofty eminence
which forms as effective a background to Rio as the Peak
does to Ilong Kong. A rack train took the guests to
the summit, from which the view is one of the finest in
the whole world. On this occasion our hosts were the
Brazilian Navy — destined, as who could have dreamed
then? to become our Allies in the Great AVar — and at the
luncheon Admiral Maurity referred to the old friendship
existing between the two Navies, and to the fact that it
was an Englishman, Admiral Lord Cochrane, who was


the first Admiral the Brazilian marine ever had. I
thanked our host in a similar strain, assuring him how
enchanted we were with the warm welcome which had
been extended to us. The ball given that evening at
the Monroe Palace by Sir Milne Cheetham and his wife,
who was a perfect hostess, will long be remembered in
Rio as one of the most brilliant entertainments ever held
there. On Sunday morning the President of the Repub-
lic came on board the Good Hope with Admiral Maurity
to make a call of ceremony. The ships were all dressed
to receive him, and when he left, after making me a few
kind remarks, a fitting salute was fired in his honour.
The following day I held a reception on board the flag-
ship, to which about six or seven hundred visitors came,
and twenty-four hours later the four ships got up anchor
and steamed off amidst cheers from the Brazilian ships
in the harbour.

My farewell message to Brazil will serve to convey
an idea of the unstinted hospitality showered on the
squadron during its stay at Rio : —

''With regret we have to say good-bye to Brazil,
whose warm welcome to the squadron has been so
thoroughly appreciated by the officers and men, and
will, if possible, tend to strengthen the feelings of
cordial friendship which already exist between Bra-
zil and Great Britain, two nations whose greatest am-
bition is peace. The Brazilian Fleet has from time
immemorial been associated with English naval offi-
cers, and we are therefore much interested to see the
great progress it is making, and to learn that it will
shortly be aug-mented by three of the largest, most
heavily armed, and most modern ships in the world.
We are grateful to the Republic for the honour the
President did us in paying a visit to the squadron, an
honour which will be fully appreciated in England.
It has been a great pleasure to have pointed out to
us the improvements that have recently been made in


the capital, and the activity which is still displayed in
the direction of progress points to Kio de Janeiro
being in the near future tlie most beautiful city in the
world. We leave j'ou with every good wish for your
welfare, and take away with us an ineffaceable recol-
lection and appreciation of the beauties of your coun-
try, and the hospitality of the inhabitants."

On Saturday, the 12th December, the squadron an-
chored about five miles from Monte Video, and this dis-
tance throughout the stay made it a matter of time, and
in rough weather of much difficulty, getting to and from
the ship. The ships at once began preparing for coal-
ing from the colliers which had come out from England
in advance to meet them, and it was not until Monday
of the week following that officers or men were in any
condition to enjoy the liberal hospitality which was
everywhere waiting for them. As at Rio, an entertain-
ment committee had arranged a plan of campaign which
ensured that every one had a good time, and the Gov-
ernment had put a large building near the landing-place
at the disposition of the squadron as an information
bureau, where the sailors could find out everything they
wanted and get refreshments at a cheap rate. The Presi-
dent had also very thoughtfully arranged for several
rooms at the Hotel Central to be occupied by any British
officers who cared to stop ashore during the visit, so that
a great number of them were able to enjoy all the com-
forts of first-class hotel life without the inconvenience of
a bill to settle at the finish.

An official reception was given at the British Lega-
tion, on the afternoon of the 15th, by the Minister, Mr.
(now Sir) R. J. Kennedy. The President of Uruguay,
Dr. Williman, attended, and the visitors were in turn pre-
sented to him. Dr. Bachini, the Minister of Foreign


Aiffairs, then made a speech, in which, in the name of the
President, he cordially welcomed the arrival of such a
powerful British Fleet in Uruguayan waters. By its pres-
ence England showed her interest in a young South
American nation, which offered no attraction but that of
having utilised in her progress the intelligent initiative
and trained energies of English pioneers. The great
warships brought the homage of England to a minor
member of the international family, and were a testi-
mony to the grandeur of those who sent them, for it was
as if, after having concluded the task of asserting the
right, they travelled round the world as a reminder of
the existence of that right and their determination to
uphold it in the future.

I, in replying, noted with feelings of pardonable pride
the highly complimentary terms in which his Excellency
had alluded to the British Na^y, and expressed my sense
of the high privilege it was to command the squadron
which had been sent to show the interest which the Eng-
lish people took in the welfare of Urugniay. I cordially
agreed that the rank and right of a sovereign country
depended, not upon its material size, but upon its moral

Next day, a banquet was given by the Minister of
War at Pocitos, an outlying suburb of Monte Video.
The decorations were conceived in the most lavish style,
and the table round which the guests sat was in the shape
of an anchor.

I venture to quote the two principal speeches deliv-
ered on this occasion, not on account of their personal
interest, but as illustrating the feeling of amity between
Great Britain and this young Eepublic, which the visit
of the squadron without doubt helped to foster. The
Minister of War spoke as follows: —


"Mr. Admiral and gentlemen, the ties which unite
Tis to the noble British nation are so great and nu-
merous that it is a grateful task to me to express in
the name of my Government the keen satisfaction
which we have felt in being able to offer Uruguayan
hospitality to the brave and distinguished members
of its glorious Navy who honour us with their visit.
And this satisfaction, gentlemen, is explicable, be-
cause from the commencement of our history England
has exercised a beneficent influence in our destinies;
we have always found in her a generous nation, dis-
posed to encourage the great efforts and beautiful
manifestations of the incipient national life, and at
this happy moment it may be recalled that it was the
country of the world's Powers to recognise the inde-
pendence of the River Plate States when we had con-
quered in loyal struggle the right to be free. Even
before, in the time of trial, when Artigas, with his
diminutive bands, fought in the open countiy without
further hope for the triumph of his ideals than the
risk of life or death offered to the motherland, it was
an English mariner, the commander of a warship at
whose masthead floated the crimson banner that the
roar of the cannons has saluted in innumerable naval
victories, who signed with the Uruguayan chieftain,
thereby virtually recognising our autonomy, a con-
vention, which may rank as the first treaty of our
national Chancellory. When the sovereignty of our
country was threatened by the tyrant Rosas, we
found in England a powerful ally, because, just as
she loved liberty for her own sons, so did she also de-
sire it for all the peoples of the earth, ostentating
among her blazons the legitimate title of the destroyer
of human slavery. In the development of this por-
tion of American land, in the advance towards the
summit of progress, on the road to wliich we walk
with unswerving faith, trusting in the action of work
and the treasures of the soil, England has a consid-
erable and most important share; the genius of her
sons and her capital has transformed the l\e|)ublic,
has threaded the territory with railways and tele-


graphs, has raised colossal works of engineering over
her rivers, has populated the lands with breeding
farms, has introduced the races of live stock that
constitute our present animal wealth, and has car-
ried the powerful impulse of progress to all comers
of the country and to all branches of production and
labour. We might almost say that it is to British
capital that we owe the victory in the peaceful strug-
gles of advancement, daily incorporating new prog-
resses, until there is to-day presented the beautiful
picture of general prosperity which we are able to
offer the world, and that stimulates us to pursue in
order, in legality, and in labour, the noble task of
opening this land to the efforts and intelligence of
all well-intentioned men who seek her own welfare.
The English who share our national life well know
that the Uruguayans are their sincere friends, that
our sentiments towards them are fraternal, and that,
whilst we admire the grandeur of the United King-
dom, we also admire the creative power of its sons,
propagators of civilisations throughout the world.
Gentlemen, to the glory of the British Navy, and to
the health of the Admiral and of his distinguished
companions in arms."

My reply was in the following terms : —

*' Your Excellency and gentlemen, on behalf of the
captains, officers and men of the squadron under my
command, I beg to return to your Excellency my most
sincere thanks for the kind reception and unprece-
dented hospitalities that have been accorded to us by
the Government of Uruguay and by the citizens of
Monte Video. I beg to thank your Excellency for the
kind way in which your Excellency has referred in
your speech to the British Navy.

''Your President granting me and my officers an
audience is an honour that will be fully appreciated
by my country. I thank your Government for send-
ing out the Montevideo to sea to meet my squadron
with a signal of welcome flying at the masthead.


Through the courtesy and kindness of your Govern-
ment I have had an opportunity of inspecting the ex-
tensions and improvements that are being made to
your already magnificent harbour, and of seeing your
splendid public buildings and your great commercial
industries. I have noted that your scientific and
charitable societies, your National University, your
compulsory education, your excellent police and gen-
eral organisation, are all of the most modern char-
acter, and compare favourably with any city in the
world. These advantages, combined with a perfec-
tion of climate, are no douljt the foundation of Monte
Video's gi'eat commercial activity and popularity.

"This Banquet to-night, in grandeur, in floral
decoration, in taste of illumination, in harmony of
colour and in perfection of all the attributes of a ban-
quet, eclipses anything that I have seen before. It
will be remembered by us as a most striking exam-
ple of the princely magnificence of Uruguayan hospi-
tality. Your Excellency's table has, I observe, been
arranged in the form of an anchor. May I be allowed
to congratulate your Excellency on this happy idea,
for it is emblematical of the fiiTiiness with which the
memory of your hospitality will be forever embedded
in our hearts.

''Again I thank your Excellency, and crave your
permission to raise my glass and drink a bumper toast
to the Government and the people of Uniguay."

I was subsequently able to entertain my host in the
Good Hope, and also the French Minister Resident, M.
Kleczkowski, who had previously invited me to lunch as
a proof of the Anglo-French friendship then happily
existing. On the 17th, a large reception was also held
on my flagship, similar to the one at Rio, and hundreds
of Uruguayans came out to enjoy the squadron's hos-

It was at this point in the tour that I sailed in the
Pelorus to Buenos Ayrcs, where, after an oflicial recep-


tion by the Argentine Naval Authorities, I dined with
the Minister of Marine at a banquet given in his honour.
Most of the time of my short stay in the capital of the
Argentine Eepublic was spent in driving about in motor-
cars and inspecting the various sights of this splendid
city — the largest south of the Line. The night before
leaving I gave a farewell dinner at the Jockey Club to
the officers of the Argentine, Swedish, and Italian Navies
whom I had met during my visit. The evidence of the
Eepublic 's progress and prosperity had greatly im-
pressed me, and it may be of interest to reproduce the
speech I delivered on this occasion as a succinct record
of my impressions : — '

''Your Excellency and gentlemen, as to-night
closes our stay in your magnificent capital, I take the
opportunity of expressing my warmest thanks to your
Excellency for the great hospitality and kindness that
have been shown to us by the Government of Argen-
tina and by the people of Buenos Ayres. I hear that,
as an assurance of peace which is so necessary for
industrial development, your Government has decided
to add to your Navy ships of magnitude and power
second to none in the world and in keeping with the
wealth and grandeur of your country. It is many
years since I visited your city, and it has improved
beyond all recognition. Your Mayor has been kind
enough to drive me round a large portion of the city,
and I am lost in admiration of what I saw.

"Taking first your port: when I came here before
there was scarcely a pier to land at ; to-day I steamed
through acres of basins accommodating hundreds of
large steamers of every nationality. Such a sight
brought home to me the enormous commercial enter-
prise of your country, its wealth and its importance.
I saw the wool, grain, and cotton industries, all dem-
onstrating the resources of Argentina. In grain I
learn that last year you exported over 3i/^ million
tons of wheat and over a million tons of linseed, whilsj;


maize reached nearly two million tons, and oats nearly-
half a million. For the current crop I hear that even
lar<?er fignres are expected. There seems to be no
doubt that ere long Argentina will be the greatest ex-
porting country of the world for cereals. My visit
to-day to Vicente Casaras gave me an idea of the mag-
nitude of your cattle industry and the excellence of
the stock, most of which I am glad to hear, derives
its origin from my country.

' ' Turning to your city, I was driven through miles
of splendid avenues ornamented by buildings which,
in splendour, rival any in the world, and your Mayor
pointed out how in every street the people moved with
the alacrity which marks business energy. Among
other things which indicated the wealth of the country
I was shown 30 millions of coined gold, 20 millions
of which was in English sovereigns. Your hippo-
drome with its treble racecourse, your rifle ranges,
your golf links, and this wonderful Jockey Club, all
show how much sport is appreciated in Argentina.
Your Mayor afforded me the pleasure of seeing your
Opera House, a building of which I have never seen
the equal, and as marking the appreciation of music
in the Argentina I am informed that a box at this
opera for the season costs £900 sterling. I have also
been taken to the Park at Palermo, where I saw the
wealth of magnificent horses and carriages, and in
those carriages, if I may say so, the most beautifully
dressed and lovely ladies that I have ever seen in the

"These, your Excellency and gentlemen, are the
impressions I shall carry back with me of Argentina
and Buenos Aires. I drink to your Excellency's
health, and thank you for doing me the honour of din-
ing with me."

The day after my return to Monte Video, Dr. Willi-
man, the President, and the Uruguayan Ministers came
off to lunch on board the Good Hope. As the President
expressed his astonishment at the enormous range of


modern artillery, I arranged on the spot for him to fire
himself a full charge from the 9.2 gun, which he did by
touching a button, and had the satisfaction of seeing the
splash of the projectile rise from beyond the horizon.
It wanted but three days to Christmas, and Dr. Willi-
man, deploring that the sailors should have to spend it
at sea, begged me to stay at Monte Video until after
the 25th. As a result of this kindly invitation, a tele-
gram was despatched home to H.M. the King, at the
request of the President of Uruguay, and, shortly after,
a gracious reply came in accordance with the latter 's
wishes. During this extension of the visit, the hospi-
tality of the residents went to even greater lengths than
before, and it was generally felt that the good relations
between England and Uruguay had been enormously
strengthened by such a fine squadron showing the flag
in a port where there is a large English colony. Show-
ing the flag occasionally in a splendid fighting squadron
like this is in fact more effective than when it is seen in
a small craft of no fighting value.

We left for St. Vincent and proceeded to Teneriffe,
where we remained for three days. No sooner had we
anchored than invitations to various entertainments be-
gan to pour in, and nothing could have exceeded the
warmth of our reception.

The many kind invitations issued by our hosts at
Santa Cruz, combined w^ith the shortness of our visit,
prevented any entertainment on the part of my squad-
ron, but I gave a large dinner party, at which both the
civil and military Governors, and most of the leading
residents, were present. The British Consul was most
kind in every way, both officially and socially, and the
good relations obtaining between the local authorities and
our representative were most apparent.


From Teneriffe the squadron proceeded direct to
Gibraltar, where at once preparations were begun for
battle practice, and every one realised the value of the
various gunnery exercises carried out during our long
cruise. Among the exercises we devoted a great deal
of time to night-firing practice, which had never been
properly provided for by the Admiralty. We had used
searchlights in the Navy for forty years, and had known
that the operator at the light could not put the beam on
to the object as the glare made it invisible. The oper-
ator had consequently to be "conned." ^ The primitive
method was for an observer, who could see the object,
to shout out ''go right" or "go left" or "up" or

"down," with an occasional "you fool, you've gone

too far." We improved upon this method by using
wires and wheels, and so transferred the actual manipu-
lation of the light to a point whence the operators could
see the object. The system worked excellently. I re-
ported it to the Admiralty, and they promptly boycotted
it, so that when war came six years afterwards we had
no device of the kind and the primitive method of shout-
ing was still being used. Several ships, however, with
their own artizans copied the Good Hope's method.

The battle practice took place at Tetuan on the 10th
February, 1909, and we used our extemporised director
firing. It was a great success, and clearly demonstrated
that all our ships should be fitted with this description
of filing. The Admiralty, however, took two years be-
fore they ordered it to be fitted to H.M.S. Neptune.

On the 15tli Febiniary, 1909, I transferred the com-
mand to Rear-Admiral Hamilton, and proceeded to Eng-
land, accompanied by my stall', in the Orient mail

' To "con" Ik the Hoa torm for to direct.


I was given a very warm send off by the officers of the
squadron, and I do not hesitate to say that I believe I
took with me the sincere good wishes of all hands under
my command.



My New System of Routine — Approved by Lord Fisher but generally Opposed
— What Naval Gunnery means — No further Employment at Sea — Back to
Director Firing — Success of the Xeptune Trials — The Thunderer and Orion
Test — Superiority of Director Firing demonstrated — More Admiralty Delay
and a Stiff Protest — Warning unheeded and Proposals rejected — Tragic
Fruits of Neglect — History of Parallel Firing — Position of the Director
Firing at the Outbreak of War — The First Dreadnought — Position of the
Mast — Perpetuating a Blunder — Mr. Churchill's Wise Decision — A New
Blunder in Exchange for the First.

On my arrival in London after transferring my com-
mand, I saw the First Lord, Mr. McKcnna, and the First
Sea Lord, now Lord Fisher of Kilverstone. As already
described, I had introduced a new routine in the Second
Cruiser Squadron, economising the time which the men
spent on housemaiding duties, in order to obtain further
opportunities of training them in their war duties. The
First Sea Lord, who was then completing the series of
naval reforms which were to save the Fleet from defeat
and the Empire from ruin, discussed the new routine I
had introduced. He approved of the modifications I had
made, but added that I was far too much ahead of my
time, and that my departure from tradition had caused
a good deal of annoyance in some quarters.

Subsequently I had the honour of an audience with
King Edward VIL He was much interested in the visit
to South Africa, and desired me to explain to hhn the
new system of instruction I had devised and its effects.

In the same year I was entertained by the Authors'
Club in Whitehall Court, and I took advantage of the
occasion to endeavour to indicate in proper language



what was really meant when reference was made to
''naval gunnery." Sir James Rennell Rodd, then the

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Online LibraryPercy ScottFifty years in the royal navy → online text (page 16 of 25)