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sometimes rising into temporary pro- same will. From the inspirations of minence-at last, under the vigorous Colbert, and the resolve of his master, administration of the Empire, Tou- sprang most of the conceptions lon became the chief, as it had been which, in their maturity and perfecthe first, of the five grand ports tion, have made the naval greatness militaires. Here have since been of France. Ever with their designs organised, and hence have started, were associated the name and talent great expeditions of conquest and of Vauban. Strategy was the idea colonisation, proving its import, and of their conception, and the master justifying the forecast of the rulers mind of the great strategist was a who had selected it as a nursery and fitting agent for their achievement. a point d'appui for the naval force of Rochefort was unhealthy. What France. The Atlantic, however, had matter !-it was strategic. The become about the same period a malaria of the marshes spread death. great field of naval enterprise, a Long to breathe the air was to die. great roadway of discovery and com- Men disappeared there by hundreds. merce ; and the genius of Richelieu What were men to the glory and decided that on this face of the sea- greatness of France ? So the work board, also, the maritime power of went on. In time the swamps were his nation must have its development drained ; the average mortality prein a port and arsenals. As a salient vailed in its barracks and hospitals ; point which offered an egress both and, in virtue of its "position geoto the Atlantic and the English graphique,” it took its place among Channel, the extremity of Brittany the great ports. Betwixt this place seemed most eligible for the purpose. and Brest, on the coast of Brittany, Here was found a splendid, spacious, and at the confluence of the rivers natural harbour, opening into a large Scorf and Blavet, was a harbour and well-sheltered roadstead, so little which the enterprise of the merknown and used, that the town which chants trading to the East had stood on it was a little insignificant seized upon for the entrepôt of place without commerce and without their merchandise, and the great trade. The iron-mines and forests

port of their

commerce. There in the neighbourhood afforded all they constructed their docks and the material for construction ; and, quays, built their workshops and shortly, the little village of Brest magazines. As long as they flourrose to be a chief naval station, the ished, it flourished, grew wealthy, site of docks and storehouses, forts great, and populous. The reverses of and barracks. The project of Riche- trade fell on the company, and the lieu was for a while almost forgotten government stepped in, purchased and abandoned, until Louis XIV., and took possession of the readywhose policy gave ever vitality and made locality and properties, and

, impulse to the creation of a marine, L'Orient became another link in the revived it. Under the direction of his cordon of the ports. minister Colbert, the admiral Du- Still there would be a great break. quesne was intrusted with the Along the whole northern face, from organisation of an arsenal ; and to the Isle of Ushant to Dunkirk, there him, and a local engineer, 'Lindu, no war - port, no harbour of belong the honour of planning and refuge even capable of receiving originating the great works, which vessels of the line. Opposite were have since been brought to such the coasts of a great rival power, completion. The great movements gradually rising to maritime supreand operations of which the Atlantic macy, and her chief ports commandwas for years the scene, prevented ing the Channel, and offering ever, to Brest from ever again falling into squadrons of observation or attack, obscurity, and it became in import points of ready egress and easy access. and efficiency, on that seaboard, what Brest was scarcely a counterbalance Toulon was on the Mediterranean.

to these. Its position was not favourRochefort was another point on able for a point d'appui on the Chanthe same base. It was a part of the nel, and the prevalence of westerly same policy, an emanation of the winds would render it uncertain and




Cherbourg-The Port and Fortress.

difficult to fetch, as a place of refuge macy, with that of the great maritime
or retreat. Thus one base, and that people of the world.
the one most open to operations, The means by which such ends
would remain a defect in the stra- have been accomplished, the motives
tegic principle, a weakness to the for which they were undertaken, the

politique extérieure” on which the real nature of the results achieved, maritime system of France was to be are well worthy of consideration. founded and constructed. Its great Let us study them as represented in projectors perceived this, and the the port of Cherbourg. To do this coast-line was searched and exam- we must view it in its different ined along its whole extent for a aspects—as a port, as a fortress of place which should have at once the defence, as a point of aggression. advantages of a harbour and position. First as a port. Cherbourg Road, as The shores offered nought save bays it presented itself to the explorers filled with sand, or bristling with for a situation, was an open space rocks, and roadsteads open to the formed between Querqueville Point winds and the surf. The position and Pelée Island, distant about four therefore became the chief consider- miles, and lying E.S.E and W.S.W. ation; the port was to be created. of each other. Hills, which form Vauban selected the bay of La Hogue; a high and precipitous coast, termithe seamen of the period favoured nating in cliffs of grey rock and Cherbourg, in consequence of its ledges near Querqueville, run to having such an even depth of water, the south-eastward. Between their and affording such good holding- spurs and the sea lies a low narrow ground. Both were equally strategic; plain, bordered by a shore broken both were situated on salient points by rocky banks and sandy indents, of the coast of Normandy; both were which, after sweeping along for some commanding stations from which distance in a curve, makes a sudden ships could depart, or to which they turn, and hollows into the bay of could return, at almost any season, Cherbourg. The Point d'Hommet, and with any wind. The question the western extremity, was a mass was long debated-bureaux and of rock which was continued along councils divided on it-conflicting the western side. At the head of interests and opinions were agitated the bay the small river Divette ran on either side-circumstances and into the sea, but made no harbour. changes of policies delayed the Here, too, stood the town. In front decision. At last Cherbourg was of this south side was a low sandy chosen as the site of another port beach, which extended until the militaire, which, surpassing the shore trends towards the east and original design, was afterwards, by north, where the rocks Des Flaits magnitude and capacity, as well mands lie, uncovered at low-water, as by the energy and resolve evinced and running off in shoals to the in its construction, to excite the northward. Beyond this again was suspicion of nations, and be inter- the Pelée Island, a flat of bare rocks preted as a menace of war. Thus which had evidently been separcompleted, the strategic system ated from the coast by the action of showed a seaboard surrounded by the waves, leaving a channel nearly a cordon of ports militairesevery half-a-mile wide, so shallow and front was an armed base-and pos- broken as to be impassable by vessessed its point of defence or attack. sels. This Ile Pelée and the QuerqueThe policy, too, which had resolved ville Point are the extremities which the institution of France as a great defined the Road of Cherbourg, though naval power, was fulfilled. Within they did not shelter it. Betwixt these ports had grown a navy, strong them was an area equal to about in material and means, strong in a square league, affording more than equipment and organisation, strong a thousand acres of good holdingin the supply of men--a navy which, ground, at a depth of four fathoms from a state of confessed inferiority, and upwards, and capable of containhad risen in 2 years to challenge ing, fülly, twenty sai? comparison nete for supre- besides frigates and



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But it was quite swept by all the masses were unequal to resist the northerly and north-westerly winds, violence of the winter storms, and and heavy swells rendered the that the waves, washing and surging anchorage unsafe, and at times im- betwixt them, had such powerful possible. This was then the posi- effect as to overthrow and overwhelm tion which art and policy deter- them utterly, so that after a while mined on. There was ample space, they lay heaped at the bottom in a an anchorage with good firm bot- sloping mound. The defeat of one tom, but no protection, and offering design only suggested another. It no natural facilities for a port or was now decided to erect a solid arsenal, in which ships of war could mass, by depositing stone “ à pierre be constructed or fitted. The advan- perdue," on the foundation furnished tages, however, were too great to be by the wreck and rubble of the cones, abandoned without an effort, and a and it was thought that the immense great one too, at overcoming the deposits beneath might be consolidifficulties and obstacles. The first dated by raising on them large blocks step was evidently to shelter the of masonry. A fort, too, capable of Rade, to give it an artificial protec- holding agarrison, and being mounted tion from the winds, especially those with twenty guns, was also to be of the north and north-west-the constructed in the centre. This was most dangerous and most frequent effected, and the success seemed apon those coasts. The idea of a break- proved, when, in 1808, the great water was accordingly projected. As storm of the 12th February tried its this structure, to effect the required strength and solidity, and once more purpose, would be extended across the the sea was conqueror. The waves, base of the roadstead from Querque- driven by the fury of the north-west ville to Pelée, leaving intervals suf- wind, broke and swept with irreficient only for entrances and pas- sistible violence against the parapet. sages, and must be sunk in a depth Every shock became fiercer and heaof from six to seven fathoms, in the vier; the waters at every surge grew midst of a sea ever turbulent and mightier and more terrible, until the tempestuous, the undertaking ap- yielding masonry gave them an enpeared stupendous from its vastness trance, and then they burst furiously and novelty, and the government through the breach, destroying and hesitated long before they entered overwhelming everything in their on it. The energy and the convic- course. Huge blocks of stone were tions of men of talent at last inspired hurled from one side of the Digue to confidence in the enterprise. The the other ; buildings and ramparts names of the workers should live were borne away like trees in a whirlever with their work-it is unjust to wind, and the destruction of the separate them. MM. de la Breton- whole work seemed impending. Durnière, Capitaine de Vaisseau, was the ing this storm the Digue was the first who gave real form and purpose scene of a little romance of peril and to the idea of a breakwater. It was heroic daring. At its commencement the project of M. de Cessart, engineer, there were more than two hundred which originated its creation. His workmen and soldiers there, who design was to lay down a line of were surprised and overtaken by the caissons of the shape of cones filled suddenness and violence of the temwith stones, at certain distances pest. Hour by hour they saw the from each other, under the supposi- danger growing greater; the waves tion that these would so break and swept nearer and nearer; every modivide the action and force of the ment a roar, louder and deeper, sea as to produce within a harbour- told of a breach in their rampart, or age sufficiently calm and smooth for a shock to the foundation of their vessels to lie there in safety. This houses. Then a comrade was swept was begun in 1784. Eighteen cones away; then others fell crushed by had been laid, each having a diameter falling ruins; then little bands, driven of one hundred and twenty feet at from point to point, seeking one rethe base, and sixty feet at the top, fuge after another, sunk worn out by when it was found that even these the cold and the struggle. No help



could reach them—no aid was at was begun when mechanical applihand-no vessel could approach--as ances were less powerful, and conthe strongest were driven from their tinued through revolutions and anchors. In the direfulness of this changes of dynasties; and then the distress, three bold fellows, three perseverance with which it was carheroic hearts, taking advantage of a ried on, and the resolution with slight lull, contrived to reach, by which it was accomplished, will have swimming, a craft which was used their due appreciation, their due sigto convey the workmen to and from nificance of persistent motive_and the Digue, and was moored at a intent. The Digue made the Rade short distance. This, by incredible of Cherbourg. Extending to a disexertion, they brought near enough tance of 4060 yards betwixt Pelée to the battery to embark many of and Querqueville, it entirely shelters their companions. Some found safety the roadstead “from N.X. round by clinging to the higher blocks, the northerly to N.E," and insures all greater part perished. Such disaster the requisites of a secure anchorage, seemed fatal to the attempt ; but the a sure refuge, and a good startingwill of Napoleon urged on the work point. It lies about W.N.W., and -the contest with the ocean went does not run in a straight line, but

Every experiment had given nds on the harbour side at an knowledge, every failure experience; angle of 45°. It was thought more every engineer improved on the at- expedient that it should be formed tempt of his predecessors, and it of two arms. “These are of unequal remained for M. Fonques Duparc to lengths, the western being nearly complete the design by proposing one-third longer than the other, each that a vertical wall of masonry should diverging 5° towards the harbour.” be built on the rubble foundation, The broad line of polished masonry rising high above the level, which rising above the waters gives little should present a long solid barrier, idea of its vastness. Lying on a massive in its structure and firm at base of upwards of one hundred its base.

yards, “with a long fore-shore to seaThis plan was adopted in 1832, wards,” the solid wall rises from a and reached completion in 1853. breadth of thirty-three feet, gradually Thus the idea which had been con- diminishing to twenty-seven at the ceived in 1668, had then floated about top, to the height of twenty-three for years amid bureaux, counsels, and feet, with the parapet, above the commissions, assuming different high-water mark. The effect which shapes and destinies, then took a it creates after that of vastness is definite form and purpose in 1775, completeness. The musoirs at either and in 1784 was embodied in actual end, the central forts, the parapet material work, after sixty-nine years bordering and ramparting the broad of labour and expense, after long causeway, all give it an exterior of contest with difficulties and delays, finish which corresponds fully with changes of construction, and vicissi- the minuteness and perfectness of tudes of disaster and failure, ap- the details. From the terre-plein peared perfected and fulfilled in the the eye sees nought save finish-in Digue--an achievement which must the fineness and smoothness of the rank high among the monuments masonry, in the slope of the parapet which the art and science of the age by which it is adapted as a breasthave raised. It was long in doing, work for guns, and in the snug shel. and the great time occupied in its tered cambres at the forts, where construction may detract from its boats can enter and keep up the comvalue as an effort of national will, munication at any tide and in any and contrast with the more rapid weather. We were certainly witness and continuous progress of our own to a landing under difficulties at low breakwater ; but it must be remem- water, when the struggles and poses bered that it was undertaken as an of cocked-hats and swords, epaulettes


This was, however, an eccentricity design. The port militaire would of debarkation. Under all circum- be still incomplete-still without stances, except those perhaps of arsenals and docks for the construcactual tempests or very heavy gales, tion and armament of vessels of war. the access is easy and well provided The genius of Napoleon comprefor. These great works of utility, hended what was needed to perfect these great mechanical triumphs, the creation, and his will resolved it. have seldom much of the picturesque. Then was issued the decree in April There were, however, here points of 1803 : “Qu'un port serait creuse view often striking and peculiar. pour les grands vaisseaux de guerre The fore-shore of the base, with its dans le roc de Cherbourg à cinquante broken, rugged masses, encrusted pieds de profondeur au-dessous des with shells, and here and there tan- hautes marées.” A bassin-de-flot and gled with sea-weed, over which the an arrière-bassin were to follow, and blue waters ripple, taking from them constitute Cherbourg as a first-class a darker hue, the figures of the towers port of war. This sounds almost like ending or breaking a vista, the frown- the mandate of an eastern despot, ing battlements of the fort on the Ile which, in the plenitude of power, Pelée beyond, the jagged steps and thousands of slaves would execute, points of the rocky shore on which or which, in the absence of it, would it stands, the breaking of the surf on be proclaimed as the outward expresits shoals

, all made pictures out of sion of empire, the vaunt and as the vast materialism around.

sumption of sovereignty. The forts we shall speak of in their "Ce magnifique programme” was, order as parts of the defence. however, no idle vaunt; it was a

The Digue leaves two channels of mandate which was obeyed, not, inentrance. The chief is that to the deed, with the rapidity of slaves westward. The space here betwixt fulfilling a master's will, but was rethe musoir at the extremity and the sponded to firmly and surely by the Querqueville Point is divided by the energies of a great people. Chavagnac Rock, which just shows The spot chosen was the mass of darkly above the water in the midst. rock on the western side of the bay. The entire distance across is about This had been called Le Pré-du-Roi, 2500 yards ; but this rock straitens in consequence of its having been the main channel to a width of rather fixed upon in former times by Vaumore than half a mile. This is acces- ban, under the direction of his massible and safe both to sailing.shipster Louis, as the site best adapted for and steamers. The inner one be- the construction of an artificial port. tween Chavagnac Rock and Querque- The name through many intervening ville is also practicable for large ves- years bad marked the purpose. No sels at certain states of the tide. other site was available. All others The other entrance is by the east- offered the objections of exposure and ward, betwixt the eastern musoir openness, of insecure foundations and and the edge of Pelée Island Flat, uncertain entrance. This presented and is much narrower and more diffi- only the difficulty of labour-the cult, in consequence of being “crossed toil of a long and stern struggle with obliquely by the tide-streams.” The the rock. It was accepted as the haven thus enclosed is divided into lesser difficulty. The work of excathe Rade and La Petite Rade. The vation was begun, and the basin Rade is the outward space beyond of Napoleon commenced the series the bay, and has two anchorages which now lie complete and perfected one near the eastern, and one under within the enceinte of the port milithe western arm of the breakwater- taire. The space thus occupied and both safe, and affording good holding; enclosed has an area of about 220 the western having a depth of from acres ; and from its situation on the six to eight fathoms everywhere. La level ground at the foot of the hills, Petite Rade_ is to the southward, and from its forming a sort of irreguwithin Fort Hommet.

lar promontory jutting on the Rade, The roadstead was achieved. It was especially capable of being isoalone, however, could not fulfil the lated and kept distinct from the


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