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town and neighbouring country. Its the representative of her great lord, north side looks forth on the break- who was absent at the head of his water and western entrance, and is armies. This basin is faced all fronted by rocks which render it un- round with granite. At its southern approachable by boats, and unfit for end are four building-slips, and one landing. The more extended_front “forme de radoub.” The slips are is the western, which faces the Petite enclosed by sheds with high massive Rade, and offers the best and easiest walls, and bomb-proof roofs. Beaccess to the port; an irregular semi- hind these are the different workshops circular line, running from the south-'-dull
, grim buildings, dark, and ern point along the foot of the hills almost silent, not enlivened even (at to the northern, connects the enceinte. least when we saw them) by the The avant - port, the first of the bustle and din of labour. On the series, was cut out of the granite-bed right are long ranges of forges and at the southern end of the western smithies. It is capable of receiving side, and is a large floating basin seven or eight first-class vessels. with a superficies of sixteen acres, This was the initiation. The extenhaving a length of about nine hun- sion of the design, a bassin-de-flot, dred feet, and a breadth of seven or wet dock, was to be dug in a hundred and fifty. Its depth is direct line to the northward of the about thirty-two feet below the level avant-port. The difficulties of excaof low-water, and upwards of sixty vation, and the diversion of the na“en contre-bas des terre-pleins” of tion's energies by changes of masters the arsenal. Its entrance from the and councillors, made this work slow roadstead is a short channel opening and protracted. The year 1829 had to the eastward, in which there are come, the Bourbon dynasty was refrom thirteen to sixteen feet at low- established, the decreer was gone, water. This is the only access to when the immersing of the basin was the system of basins, and is not avail- inaugurated in the presence of royalty, able for large-class ships, except at and another part of the programme certain times of tide. Before the magnifique,” was achieved. The completion of the eastern end of the bassin-de-flot has the same depth as breakwater, this channel and basin the avant-port, with which it comwere much exposed to winds from municates by a lock, or gates, fiftythe eastward, and though more shel- nine feet wide, for the passage of tered now, are still affected by the vessels from one to the other. It heavy surf during strong gales from has no “cales or formes,” and being that quarter. To the southward of quite clear, is well adapted for holdthis is another entrance which opens ing vessels of war, though its capacity into a port or cambre for boats and in this respect has been much overlumps, and then into a smaller bassin- rated, both in the French and English de-flot for the smaller steamers, and accounts. On the right, towards the for the loading of lighters with pro- sea, stands a range of building, convisions, &c. Around stand buildings stituting the “Arsenal de l'Artillerie for the salting and storing of provi- de Marine.” In front of it is a large sions. This supplementary little space, where guns of every kind and port is called the Bassin-de-Flot de calibre for service afloat are laid, Chantereyne, from its being con- and shot of every size piled, ready structed on the supposed site of the for transport. These two, the avantchapel built by Maude in commemo- port and the bassin-de-flot, occupy ration of her deliverance, and where the westeru side of the environ of the thanksgivings might be chanted
chanted dockyard. continually for the escape of the Still there was more to be done. queen.
As yet there was neither water-space, The avant-port was six years in nor means of construction enough progress, and (as has been before for a first-class port, and after many said) was inaugurated on the 27th years of discussion and survey, the August 1813, with great pomp and third part of the decree was enacted. circumstance, with great triumph In 1836, the arrière-bassin was comand exultation, by Marie-Louise, as menced. This was to exceed each of the former in magnitude, and to be pending on the establishments. Bethe crowning effort of the design, the yond, again, the enceinte militaire, grand development of the port mili- with its nine bastions, and its ditch taire. The natural impediments to in front, insulating it completely the undertaking were greater than from the world, makes the port a heretofore, and new means were ap- fortress of defence. plied: A system of grand mines, Such, in its plans and details, is the with lateral galleries, charged with á dockyard of Cherbourg. The details great quantity of powder, was adopt- have perhaps been dwelt on too mied to assist the excavation. These, nutely, and are facts already well when fired by means of an electric known, and often repeated; but withbattery, shattered and broke the out the facts in presence, it is difficult mass and solidity of the rock, so that to draw conclusions, or reason on it was afterwards easily raised and results. removed. Notwithstanding all the The first aspect in which we regard engineering skill, the progress was this port militaire is as a national not rapid, and it is only now, in this effort-a manifestation of power and year 1858, that the last of the will by a great people. The extent, merveilles has been solemnly and the greatness, the difficulty of the publicly proclaimed as a
a finished work, lead us at once to repeat the work. "In dimensions it exceeds, crow of our neighbours, and regard perhaps, any basin constructed for it as one of the marvels of the age. war purposes now existing in the A little consideration, however, will ports or dockyards of the great naval very much modify the wonder.' The powers. It covers twenty acres of obstacles were doubtless great, but space, extends on its longer side to they were not new; they were such four hundred and twenty metres, and as men had been contending with measures two hundred metres across. since the world began ; they have Its depth is eighteen metres from the ever been in contest with rock, terre-plein. Two locks connect it and stone, and clay ; they have with the Rade, one opening into the ever been toiling and digging-ever avant-port, and the other into the mixing mortar and building walls. bassin-de-flot, and both being wide It was not as with the Atlantic enough to admit any vessel of war. cable, where science had to struggle On the west side are seven building- with new elements and new maslips, of various sizes, exquisite in chinery, and test its stages by exworkmanship and finish. On the periment. Here the work was with north side are four “formes," or the same materials, and with better docks, for the repair of vessels, also means, than those with which the most complete in details, and in the ancients achieved their grand monufineness of the materialand handicraft. ments. It was the old process—to dig, On the south two other "formes "are to delve, to heaveout, to build and that being dug. It is said to contain too with the superior advantages of 1,600,000 cubic metres of water, and blasting and mining. Thus regarded, to be capable of receiving fourteen the result does not seem so astonlarge vessels of war. Around it are ishing. The design was pursued grouped all the various workshops throughout fifty-five years, and durfor machinery, &c.; and betwixt iting this time the resolve of a mighty and the other basins are the offices State was bent on its accomplishand bureaux for the direction of the ment. As an achievement requiring movements of the port. The whole only means, labour, and supplies, of the port militaire is enclosed by a subject to no doubtful experiments, high wall, excluding it entirely from and dependent on no theories of the habitations of officials, workmen, science, and compared with the time or soldiery, so that when the hours it occupied, it can scarcely be acof work are ended it may be closed cepted as any extraordinary developentirely, subject to no egress or ment of the energies of a great nation, ingress, and left solely to its guards. directed by a strong government. Its On the west of the wall are the bar- expression is rather that of will than racks, hospitals, and arsenals, de- of power.
In all efforts of labour, time must are seven docks, and the bassin-debe calculated as well as results, and flot might be made entirely availespecially by those who would there- able for fitting or laying up vessels. by estimate the resources and capa. We come next to the harbourage. city of an empire. To us such an According to some English authoriundertaking, vast and complete as ties, sixty ships of the line might lie it is, would, as an operation of so in the three basins. This, however, many years, be scarcely a marvel or is an over-estimate, at least, if they a vaunt.
are supposed to be rigged, equipped, As a port it has been even more and ready for service. The French extolled than as an effort of national say thirty-eight; but even this numpower. The magnitude of the basins, ber, if all ataunto, would be very and the extent of the system of docks crowded and difficult to move. And and works—seen, too, under peculiar here appears the great deficiency of circumstances—have produced an ex- the port. There is no intermediate aggeration of effect which has led many space, as in our harbours, betwixt to overrate its real capacity, and to the basins and the roadstead, where overlook many important deficiencies. vessels, when despatched from the The alarmist theory has invested the docks, might have a spacious and actuality with a mirage of magnify- sheltered rendezvous, and where those ing opinions and dazzling ideas. in reserve might float secure, and
The real requirements of a military ready for future need. Our fleets at port and arsenal are building-space, Spithead or in the Sound might, if facility and power of equipment, and necessary, run into the harbours of harbourage, either as shelter for a Portsmouth or Hamoaze, and find fleet, as a station for its preparation, sufficient anchorage, without disturba starting-point for its operations, or ing one of the hundred hulks lying a depot for its reserve. In building, there, or in any way interfering with space Cherbourg exceeds any one of the fair egress and ingress of the docks. our great dockyards.
It has alto- This could not be done at Cherbourg. gether eleven building-slips, all avail. If the basins were made a depot for able, and within a certain concentric a reserve, they would no longer be distance. Building-space. does not, available as a harbour of refuge for however, imply building-power
. Thé a fleet, if the Rade should from any great disproportion betwixt the space, circumstance become untenable ; and the construction, and the edifices, and if kept for that purpose, Cherbourg the activity, the work, the artisan could only be used as a station for power, evident therein, is one of the an active fleet, and as a buildingmost striking and noteworthy fea- port, and could never possess a relay tures of Cherbourg. In the work- of ships which, when one squadron shops and the docks, along the quays had started forth, might be fitted and arsenals, in the stores and the and despatched in reinforcement. It bureaux, there is nowhere evident could not answer the double purpose that movement and action which of refuge and reserve, and is, therecharacterise our own yards. This fore, deficient in one of the requiremay be said to be caused by a greater ments of a great port. It fulfils the concentration of means and a better first idea of the design more fully organisation of labour. The great than the second. It is more preflux of man-power, and the great eminently a strategic point of attack masses of material, so associated with or defence than a harbour or port. our notions of a naval arsenal, are It possesses all the capabilities for wants which cannot, however, be re- this — shelter and protection for a conciled with a great resource of fleet of considerable size-a roadstead means or a great command of arti- where it might lie ready for a start sans. This building-power is a point, or run from a danger-a system of however, which need concern us little basins fully equal to its repairs and We have outbuilt ourselves-could, equipments, and capable, if neceswith the aid of our mercantile yards, sary, of affording it further shelter outbuild all the navies of the world. and defence—an arsenal apparently
For equipment and repairs there complete, very compact in its arrangements, and with the directing power defence. Hence arose Fort Querquewell centralised, and the departments ville on the western extremity, and well organised. Such it is; but it is the Fort Imperial on the Ile Pelée, the port of one fleet. Should that which is a continuation of the eastern. be dispersed or destroyed, it has no On and from these was formed and power, no means at once to create developed the present system of deand send forth another to replace it. fence. It may be said to consist of There is no room for a nucleus—no three lines. The first extends along waters, where "the mighty masses the base of the Rade, and is formed -the bodies of war-ships —“ may by the Ile Pelée, the Digue, with its repose on their shadows in perfect musoirs and its central forts, and stillness," until necessity demands Querqueville. The battery of Chathem, and then be made “instinct vagnac, which is being constructed at once with life and motion,” so betwixt this and the western musoir, that a second fleet may succeed a will in time strengthen and complete first, and yet another be prepared to it. These all defend and command issue forth to guard the safety or the approaches and entrances to the assert the honour of its country. roadstead. The second commences
As a dockyard establishment it again with Querqueville, continues presented certainly less activity, less along the shore in the battery of St workman force, perhaps less avail- Anne, the northern bastions of the able material, than our own; but dockyard and Fort Hommet, and there seemed to be a careful organi- ends in the Fort des Flamands, built sation of means, and a concentration on rocks beyond the town and the of strength, which prevented and commercial harbour, and facing the guarded against any such waste of eastern entrance and anchorage. power, waste of material, waste of The guns from these sweep and time, in doing, undoing, and over- range over every part of the Rade in doing, as we sometimes display in its whole extent. The third has the the prodigality of our resources. Montagne de Roule as a centre, which
If Cherbourg has been exaggerated towers above and overtops the whole as a port, it has perhaps been rather as a grand natural citadel, and is the underrated as a fortress. Its de- land front of the defence. A system fences have grown with its growth, of redoubts and field-works extends have sprung up step by step with its from hence eastward to the Fort creations, and when complete will des Flamands, commanding all the attest the perfection with which art roads and approaches in that quarter, can strengthen and fortify a position and, starting from the same centre, of nature. Impregnability is perhaps circles again westward over a range an impossibility. Nothing can assure of hillocks to Querqueville. There defence; but its excellence would is also an outer line of redoubts, appear to be attained when every which take a greater sweep in the point of approach and assault has same direction. The redoubts and been fortified and guarded so that the works, huwever, composing the land chances of attack become an impro- defence, are very imperfect, and bability, and amount to a desperate many which appear on the plans are venture.
only projected." Roule has also its Thus is it with Cherbourg. The seaward front, and may be taken as difficulties of defence were almost the third point in the sea defences. as great at first as those of shelter Formidable as this system of deand construction. The one work, fence looks as a whole, it is still however, aided as well as suggested more so when studied in detail. The the other. The place to be fortified space to be defended was comparaat first was an open bay of a semi- tively limited after the enclosure of circular shape, terminating in two the Řade by the breakwater, and the points at each extremity. These distance betwixt the lines was not points were the positions to be great enough to prevent one covering fortified whilst the roadstead and the other. The forts, too, and batthe town were the only objects of teries are all designed with consum
mate skill, and constructed with most are of a calibre corresponding nearly elaborate nicety and regularity of with our 32's, those on one of the workmanship.
flanks are Paixhan's. In the fort is Querqueville may be taken as the a large barrack, bomb-proof and well chief point in the first line. It is ventilated, with the rooms opening one of the oldest of the forts. Its out of galleries and wide corridors. creation was a necessity suggested by Towards the land it has a regularly a past danger. In 1758, a raid was bastioned front, with a ditch and made on Cherbourg by Lord Howe. outworks; just beyond is a larger The troops were landed to the west- space called the Polygone, which is ward of Querqueville, ravaged the being cleared for the practice of great country, occupied the town, and held guns and musketry. The next point it to ransom. To avert similar in the outer line is, or will be, Fort disasters, the erection of forts on the de Chavagnac; at present, the rock salient points of Querqueville, Ile on which it is to be based is just Pelée, and Hommet, was decreed by raised above the waters. It divides royal' ordonnance. Querqueville is the passage into two channels, and built on a rocky point at the very · will, when the projected work is extremity of the bay. It is a large carried out, materially strengthen the half-moon fort with a casemated defence. We have next to consider battery, having embrasures for forty- the Digue as a fortification. Naposix guns, flanked by two batteries en leon conceived the idea of a central barbette. To those who had seen fort. To him it was at once evident the casemate principle in the Rus- that such a mass of masonry might sian fortifications, and there and be adapted to military purposes. The then judged it from the evident and idea has been extended, and there palpable disadvantages which it de- are now four forts, the two musoirs monstrated, the adaptation of it by at either extremity, the central fort, French engineers was a surprise and and another in the middle of the a lesson. Nowhere could it be seen western arm. The western musoir is more perfectly illustrated than in a round tower, intended to be raised these Cherbourg forts. The cham- to three tiers, each having twenty bers are all spacious and high, and guns. There is, however, great doubt open in the rear. In addition to of the stability of the foundation at this, there is a passage leading con- this part; and as it has already expetinuously around the battery in rear rienced a considerable shock by which of the guns, so that there is a clear the walls have been much shaken and and ready communication through- shattered, the first tier only has out, and a free ventilation for the been completed, and above it there is escape of the smoke. Under these placed rubble and loose stones, to the circumstances the objections to the height of the intended walls, so that casemate disappear, or are consid- it may be ascertained in time whether erably modified. At Querqueville the base has settled sufficiently to there is a large open space in rear of admit of the building being continthe battery, so that the inconven- ued according to the original design. ience of the smoke would be little felt. The guns, when mounted, would Above the casemate is a bomb-proof sweep the channel, and also the westplatform on which guns might be ern anchorage of the Rade. The next mounted, though there is now no fort, in the centre of the arm, is of an appearance of such intent. The guns oblong form, and would command from Querqueville command entirely the sea in front of the Digue, and the approach and entrance to the also the Rade. So also would the western end of the Rade. The chief and central fort, which stands width of the passage is about 2500 at the angle formed by the two arms. yards, so that ships passing mid- It also is circular, is constructed for channel would be within range of three tiers, with a
réduit elliptique its guns at all the different points. casemate" in front of the sea face. Altogether, includingtheflanks, about The arrangements of the casemates sixty-four guns could be brought to are here equally perfect, though on a bear upon it. Those in the half-moon smaller scale. The musoir at the