Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Such minor fortresses as Sveaborg, Helsingfors

During the Crimean war the allied British and French navies distinguished themselves by their signal failure to effect the reduction of such minor fortresses as Sveaborg, Helsingfors, and the fortified lighthouses upon the Gulf of Finland. Their respective Admirals fired their severest broadsides into each other, and the bombardment of the forts was silenced by the smart interchange of nautical civilities between the two flagships. Napoleon III, who sought an explanation of this failure of his fleet, was given a reply that I cannot refrain from recommending to the British Admiralty to-day. "Well, Sire," replied the French diplomatist, who knew the circumstances, "both the Admirals were old women, but ours was at least a lady." If British Admirals cannot put to sea without incurring this risk, they might, at least, take the gunboat woman with them to prescribe the courtesies of naval debate.

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