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The neighbourhood of the Arsenal to the chief Military Academy in the kingdom gives these embryo artillery officers an opportunity of witnessing the experiments which are constantly going on in the Marshes, either for the purpose of testing new guns, or of practically examining the capabilities of new inventions. The extraordinary energy with which projectors of all kinds (clergymen among the number) devoted themselves to the task of inventing new implements of destruction during the Russian war entirely belied that lamb-like spirit attributed by Mr. Cobden to his fellow countrymen.
No less than 1976 new projects were submitted to the Select Committee of Ordnance with respect to artillery alone. Of this number a large proportion were of the most imbecile kind—such as proposals to fill shells with Cayenne pepper, chloroform, and cacodyle, the latter a most virulent material which has the property of poisoning the air around it. The asphyxiating ball of the French was the true parent of the whole brood. Only forty-three of the propositions were favourably reported on, and of this number only thirty have been adopted into the service. First and foremost among these is the plan of filling shells with liquid iron. It is scarcely possible to exaggerate the destructive effect of this new application of an old material. At the second shot fired in the Marshes against a perfectly new butt which cost 2001., it set it on fire and entirely destroyed it. The engines of the Arsenal and the old expedient of heaping earth against the burning wood were of no avail, the molten iron having penetrated in all directions deep into the timber. It is hard to believe that any ship will be able to resist the destructive effect of these shells, or that masses of men will be found courageous enough to withstand their devastating effects; for immediately the percussion shell comes in contact with any object, it explodes and throws the molten metal in all directions--splashing and striking objects that are completely out of the way of the contents of ordinary shells, and proving far more deadly both to animate and inanimate substances than the famous Greek fire of old. This very invention was brought to the notice of the authorities as early as 1803 by a workman in a London iron-foundry, but the suggestion was so contrary to all the current notions of the time, that it was rejected, and not heard of again until a new war brought into play more advanced ideas.
The new guns that were brought forward were innumerable, and many of them, such as the Mersey steel gun, and the great mortar, are still under trial. If this mortar, which is built up of a series of rings 9 inches broad and 34 inches thick, laid over one another, and fitting tightly, so as to form a barrel, should ultimately prove capable of resisting the full charge of 70 lbs. weight of powder, it will be the most destructive implement yet invented for the purpose of crushing fortified places. In some of the trials which have taken place in the Marshes, it threw its 36-inch shell, weighing 26 cwt., upwards of two miles, and when the missile fell, it buried itself in the ground to so considerable a depth, that after digging down 12 feet, and probing for 15 feet more, it still remained undiscovered. The artillerymen say jestingly that it has dropped down to Australia. No casemate at present in existence could withstand the crushing weight of its fall, and its bursting charge of 200 lbs. of powder.
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After contemplating this vast establishment for the manufacture of arms, with its sixty steam-engines, which, through the agency of upwards of three miles of running shafting, gives motion to upwards of a thousand machines, we must not omit to mention the human labour which directs this enormous manufacturing power. During the height of the Crimean war, upwards of 10,000 men and boys were employed in the Arsenal, an army of workers engaged upon the production of the materials of destruction equal to the entire foree encamped at Aldershot, and double the number of men that besieged and took Delhi. When such masses of men as this have to be dealt with daily, it is obvious how necessary it must be to possess an organized system by which the loss of what might otherwise be considered mere fractions of time is noted. Let us suppose for instance that every man and boy in the Arsenal lost only five minutes per day, and it would amount in the aggregate to the loss of the labour of one man for twelve weeks to the Government.
The next problem to be solved is how to pay 10,000 men in any reasonable time. It would be clearly impossible to calculate each man's wages at the time of payment, even if a little army of clerks were employed. It is therefore done beforehand by a staff of men employed for this purpose. The amount due to each person having been ascertained, the money is laid out on boards divided into partitions numbered consecutively. A corresponding number for each man with the amount to be given to him is distributed previously to the payment taking place, on what is termed a “pay ticket.' On pay day the artisans take their places in single file, arranging themselves according to their numbers, and passing in front of the pay boards, receive their wages, and surrender their tickets, which are receipts for the money. No money is exchanged if not brought back before the man reaches a certain point, and in this space there are persons sta
tioned to watch that no exchange is made of bad money for good. To search every man as he left would be impossible, yet it is highly necessary to have some means of checking petty depredations of metal, &c. Formerly peculations of this kind were constant, and the aggregate loss must have been immense. When it was first determined to put a stop to it, the men were told only a few minutes before leaving work that they would be searched as they went out. The effect of this announcement was that the whole Arsenal was strewed with small pilfered articles, thrown hastily away. Now a couple of policemen at the gate touch indiscriminately a certain per centage of the men as they are going, and these have to pass through a side lodge to be searched. As no man can tell whether or no he will be touched, the whole mass is kept honest. The mere lodging of such a body of men was at first a difficulty even in so large a town as
Voolwich ; the demand, however, soon produced supply, and the means taken to insure the fall of Sevastopol caused the rise of a new town of at least two thousand houses in the immediate neighbourhood of the Arsenal.
Complete as we have shown the organization of the Arsenal to be, both as regards its mechanical resources and its staff, it is generally understood that the Government do not intend to depend upon it wholly for the supply of the munitions of war. In the case of small arms, its powers, as we have seen, are wholly inadequate to the task. In those branches, however, where the
, manufacturing power is ample, they will not attempt to push it to the point of excluding the private manufacturer from a share in the business. This is, we think, a wise decision ; for, however excellent may be the present arrangements now everything is new, and the broom is fresh, it cannot be denied that the tendency of this and all other Government establishments is to go to sleep, since they neither possess the stimulus of private gain to teach them economy, nor that unity of direction which gives such vigour to private enterprises. The principle of competition ought therefore to be kept up, and we should run the private manufacturer against the public one in order to keep down price, and pit the Royal Factory against the trade in order to keep up quality. Another great gain will accrue from the determination of the Government, which is that the private manufacturers will not lose the art of making certain stores of war--an art which cannot be learned in a day. It would be unwise for the authorities to put all their eggs into one basket, and this they would most assuredly do by entirely depending upon their own powers of production, and in disassociating themselves
from the great and fertile manufacturing power of England, which generally knows so well how to economize and progress.
If the Government have shown judgment and foresight upon this point, we cannot say as much for their inexcusable neglect to provide for the security of this enormous establishment, which contains within its walls not only the principal depôt of warlike stores in the island, but also the means of producing them. We do not believe that our neighbours are going to sail up the Thames quite as easily as the Dutch did, or that any foreign army marching from Dover could destroy the Arsenal on its way to the capital without our having ample notice of their approach. Nevertheless we cannot think that the sole Arsenal of England, placed as it is in a very accessible part of the island, should be left entirely without the means of defence. The place itself could not be fortified, as it is commanded by the heights of Shooter's Hill; but the neighbourhood is admirably adapted for the purpose. In the opinion of military engineers, it would not be necessary even to erect the requisite works until the moment their services were required. Half a dozen earth batteries, mounted with heavy guns, would command all the land approaches ; and a few flats, posted so as to sweep the reaches of the river, would effectually prevent the approach of any hostile force by water. The scheme of these batteries should, however, be settled beforehand in all their details, so that in the moment of danger they could be completed almost in the presence of the enemy, in case an invader should give the Channel Fleet the slip some fine misty morning, and succeed in making good his footing upon our shores.
Art. VIII.-1. The Sepoy Revolt: its Causes and Consequences.
By Henry Mead. London, 1857. 2. India and Europe compared. By Lieut.-General John Briggs,
E.I.C.S. London, 1857. 3. The Indian Mutinies : a Speech delivered at Wimborne, Dorset.
By the Earl of Shaftesbury. London, 1857. 4. The Rise of our Indian Empire. By Lord Mahon (now Earl
Stanhope). Being the History of British India, from its origin
till the Peace of 1783. London, 1858. 5. Sendschreiben an Lord W., über den Militair-Aufstand in Indien,
seine Ursachen, und seine Folge. [Epistle to Lord W. on the Mutiny in India, its Causes and Consequences.] By Leopold von Orlüch.
DURING the last hundred years the British nation has been
habituated to the spectacle of an immense empire growing
up, in addition to their wide-spread colonial dominions, without their being called upon to contribute towards the cost of the conquest, or even to share the responsibilities which such an acquisition must necessarily entail. They have bardly cared to inquire how it was done; and, so long as the progress was uninterrupted, it seemed to be of minor importance by what means or for what purposes this dominion was acquired. It has hitherto been sufficient to know that our power was yearly extending in the East, and our trade and wealth increasing, and we were content to leave to others the credit or the blame of acts by which we benefited, and to intrust to them the performance of those duties which are involved in the charge, which we have practically assumed in our Eastern dominions, of one-fifth part of the whole human race.
A mighty and unexpected revolution has awakened us from this trance, and we have suddenly become aware of the immensity of the interests at stake, and of the peril to our imperial position that has resulted from our culpable supineness.
India is now the country towards which all eyes are turned ; and Indian questions, instead of being banished from polite society, are everywhere of the most engrossing interest. The danger at present is lest we should attempt to repair in a hurried session of a hundred days the evils which have been caused by our neglect during the last hundred years. Those, however, who know India best will be least in a hurry to legislate for this new state of affairs; and no other argument can be required for delay than an appeal to the experience gained in the late outbreak. Men who have passed the best part of their existence in daily intercourse with the Sepoys, living in the same lines in peace, and in war fighting in the same ranks, have been as completely deceived as if they had arrived from England for the first time a few days before, and even now scarce two men are agreed as to the true nature of a revolt with the circumstances of which we are so painfully familiar, and still fewer can form a distinct idea as to how it is to be repressed, or how its recurrence is to be prevented.
When the mutiny first broke out, the indignation of the public was strongly excited against what was then termed missionary meddling, which was supposed to be the root of the whole evil. From this men turned to the credulity of the officers of Sepoy regimients, arising, it was said, from their exclusive habits and ignorance of their duties. The blame was next laid on the imbecility of certain aged officers; and through all the invectives there ran an angry wail against the incapacity and stupidity of the Supreme Government. One by one, as the mutiny spread, these explanations of the cause have been shown to be insufficient, and have been abandoned by the persons who at first believed in them.