I have just visited the "Pearl City" in the Cerberus and, wonderful to relate, have survived the experiment, nay, more, have an increased respect for ironclads, and shouldn't in the least object to a similar risk of life, nay, once a week, on an average. Whether or not the splendid Ministerial lunch and sundry bottles of No.2 on board had anything to do with it, I decline to say; but I stick to my first assertion -- I like ironclads.
Having "friends at court" I got off from Williamstown in this Harbor-Master's boat, and boarded the monster. When I had last visited her, it was a work of great difficulty to clamber up her steep side ladder; but now, I stepped almost at once on to her deck from the boat. I was introduced to her polite commander, and found him, to my surprise, a much younger man than he represented in the plates of the day.
From the lower deck I ascended to the flying deck, and from that elevation watched the process of weighing Martin's patent (and ponderously) anchor by the steam windlass. Slowly and surely the links keep rising out of the water, and lots of boys from the Nelson, with crooked rods of iron, fork it up, and pass it below; the hose playing upon it as it comes up, link by link, to wash off the crust of mud, with which it is coated. After thirty six fathoms have been brought up then up comes the unwieldly mud-hook, and the order is passed "easy ahead."
Just then the Rangoon comes close past us, and firing her usual two-guns, politely "dips" her ensign to Her Majesty's colonial man-o-war, Cerberus, and as she goes onto her anchorage at Sandridge, we ponderously put ourselves in motion, and with a great deal of fuss under our stern (I was greatly puzzled at first to know stern from her bow) caused by the revolving of her twin screws, we were off.
I was told she drew 16 feet of water and noticed she got underweigh (I like good words) at 20 to 11.
These facts may possibly interest your readers, but they did not interest me so very particularly at the time, the fact being that I was busily occupied in gazing intensely down a sky-light that I found afterwards belonged to the wardroom, and where I saw a clean white tablecloth spread. What was placed thereon I forbear, in mercy, to tell your readers; suffice it to say, it satisfied me!
So with mind at peace on the subject of famine, I tranquilly again ascended to the upper deck, and found the vessel was steaming a good steady eight knots an hour. The sea had scarcely a ripple on it, and a sea breeze, tempered by the sun, almost made it like a summers day.
I think my next proceeding was to get into conversation with the chief officer, and a very jolly old fellow I found him. He told me, among other things, that he had been thirty years in H.M. navy.
The next thing of interest was the heaving overboard of the patent log, to see exactly how fast we were going, but she frequently stopped to fire guns. I form the conclusion that this patent log business was a "delusion and a mare" for all the use it was made of.
The next motion on board was the event of the day "lunch." The breadth of the beam of the Cerberus is considerable, and still allowing for passages, pantries, and side-cabins, the wardroom is a spacious apartment, but not one-third as large as its requirements demanded on this occasion.
Place aux dames. The ladies took the seats of honor, and such of H.M.Ministers who has risked their lives in their country's service took their seats without the usual oaths, and then there came a scramble, and nothing but the presence of mind of the Parlimentary waiter in charge saved the very tablecloth from being eaten, I believe.
There must be something, after all, in sea air. My recollections of that lunch now are a medley of the popping of champagne corks, and the distant sounds as of fifty blacksmith's shops in full swing.
At last I went aft, or for'ard- I haven't the least idea which- to see what caused all the banging and clanging, and speedily found myself in the engine-room.
I remember Thackeray's definition of what the Mediteranean steamer's engines seemed to say as he lay in bed at night, and which he defined as "spoke-shave! bullock-smithy! spoke-shave! bullock-smithy!" but I defy Old Nick himself to get any sense out of the engines of H.M. ironclad Cerberus. I fancy I caught something in the quick sound of the revolving cylinders, but it sounded too much like oaths to be reported here.
In the engine-rooms the swing-lamps gave a lurid glare, making darkness, and all its horrors of machinery in motion dimly visible, and the clank and clash of the piston-rods deafened the stupified (I do not particularly allude to the lunch) observer.
I was glad to crawl (I think that is the correct term) on the upper deck again, and found they were just heaving over-board a cask, with a flag stuck in the bung for the purpose of firing at.
I watched the heaving (a good nautical word) of the cask over-board with considersable interest (there was no risk attached to it); but when afterwards I incautiously looked in at one of the turret encumbrances, and I saw a large *** *** bolstar, that my natural instincts told me contained powder rammed down the muzzle of a gun that would have contained me comfortably, I decided that, as accidents do occur sometimes, I would adjourn to a distant portion of the vessel. In a few minutes the vibrations of the screws ceased, and the two steam-pipes blew off, when there was a flash and a crash, and I behold a shot, weighing 4 cwt, flyiing through the air, and as plainly to be seen as a cricket ball at a match. It struck the water, throwing up a small cloud of spray, and ricochetted (sic) about 100 yards to the right, when it struck the water again, and disappeared. The revolving turret is very simple, and the aim is to be got, tolerably certain.
The captain of the turrets, (not of the gun) controls the revolution of the turret with one hand, while with the other he fires off the gun the instant it covers the object. His head is, necessarily, above the turret, and exposed during the time of taking aim, but it would take a good rifle shot to interfere with him during the few seconds of time he is exposed.
We took on board the pilot about nine miles from Geelong, but Captain Panter piloted us through the narrow channel himself. Directly we were through the narrows we were surrounded by yachts of all sizes, rigs and descriptions, crowded by people, and presently the tug Sophia met us, fairlyblack with the sight-seers.
It was a quarter past four, and the city of (I was about to say the dead, but I won't, they have been so kind to us!) Geelong was before us, so we thought it incumbent upon us to fire off two blank cartridges, which we accordingly did, and I thought the echos would never cease, reverberating among the hills. Corio Bay looked very pretty and all the vessels there were dressed for the occasion.
We dropped the "Martin's patent" precisely at 4.30 and I had the honor of being *red where in the captain's gig of the Cerberus of the Senior Naval Officer of Victoria. I was present at the banquet, of course, but I leave the description thereof to other journals.
I noticed that Ministers of the Crown and my bretheran of the press (to use a colonial term) "skedaddled" by the last train, at 9.30; not so myself. I stopped to enjoy myself - with which intention I came down; and have a distinct and grateful recollection of the open hospitality of his Worship the Mayor, and the kind courtesy of the Veteran and senior town clerk of the Australian Colonies.
Apropos of the town clerks, the three senior ones were present-- Messrs Waire, Eville, and Fitzgibbon.
We have seen Corio Bay both in winter and summer, rough and smooth, in storm and sunshine, and it has always been a scene of beauty. But on Monday art assisted nature, and it was more picturesque than ever. Many a youngster, we will be bound, woke early, and anxiously looked out to see what sort of weather it was, as on the weather chiefly depended his promised visit to the Cerberus. The "lookout" must have been most gratifying, for a finer morning could not have been, and the day that followed it was a glorious one.
Just the day, in fact, for a much longer trip than that required to reach the Cerberus. A refreshing, but not too strong breeze prevailed, and the miniature billows danced and sparkled in the genial sunshine. In the earlier part of the day the owners of sailing boats could be seen looking for the expected harvest, but although hundreds assembled on the wharf, but few called their services into requisition. And so they waited, contented with taking an odd job now and again, knowing full well that the people must come. Their fore-sight was correct; at mid-day scores of folks, young and old, could be seen wending their way down to the Beach, and at two o'clock the scene presented was one of the most animated pictures we have been fortunate enough to look upon, and a picture that no pen could do justice to.
Standing on the Moorabool Street wharf, and looking to the right and to the left, nothing but life and animation met the eye. Hundreds of gaily-dressed sightseers, ladies and babies, men, boys, and girls could be seen hastening down the street, and in their haste occasionally tripping over the stones. On either side of the wharf appeared yachts and fishing boats, decked out in their cleanest canvas and gayest flags, whilst between the wharf and the grim, stolid-looking stranger, the blue waters of the Bay were almost hidden by the crowd of white and brown canvas. Yachts there were of every description; fishing boats had been cleaned of scales, and whaleboats and wherries rode over the waves, and, both coming and going, each was laden with a human freight.
Occasionally, the steamer Sophia made the picture between the monitor and the shore look more complete; but she did not appear to be much patronised, few caring about paying a shilling to go in a smoky tug when buoyant yachts that skimmed over the water like things of life went there and back for a quarter of that sum. And it was not only on the wharf, on the water, and on the ironclad that crowds were to be seen; the beach was lined with spectators, and many a field-glass was brought into play by the strollers on those most delightful promenades - the emerald-colored eastern slopes and the cliffs on the western side of the town.
And the cries that met one as the wharf was reached! What a scene of excitement and bustle was there! "Here you are, marm; there and back for three-pence." "Want a boat sir? Geelong boat, sir!" "Now for the 'Cerberus' - just going to start." Timid women could be seen there who did not dare trust themselves in the tiny craft, bolder ones who delighted in the rocking, and boys and men et hoc genus omne. The Sophia puffed and her whistle shrieked as she lazily rolled alongside the rotten old pier. Boat after boat filled and went away, boat after boat returned to the wharf, and it was a continuous going and coming throughout the afternoon until sundown. And on the boats what fun there was going out; how amusing it was to listen to the remarks that were made, there was not half so much fun coming back, the sight-seers were so tired with looking down the "connon's mouth," or forcing their way through gratings and vainly endeavouring to master the intricacies of the vessel. But going out how the knowing ones would dilate how they admired or pooh-poohed the "Cerberus" as they approached her hardy sides. How the "inevitable stout lady" without the inevitable basket, with inevitable baby in her arms, and a small boy clinging to her for protection, would shriek as the boom went close over her head and the boat went about, how the boys would laugh at her timidity and crack quiet jokes at her expense and at that of the girls when a very small sea washed over the boys. How stern old men would sit watching the vessel so totally at variance with the old wooden walls of England and never say a word.
In every boat there was a motley company that Dickens would have delighted to describe. What a scene met the eye as one scrambled on to the lower deck. Every deck was crowded with visitors, who, having pryed about into every nook and corner, rested themselves by listening to the music played by the Nelson boys, who displayed no mean proficiency in the use of their instruments. And no matter where you went to - on the main deck, the lower deck, or flying deck, you were bound to find old and young satisfying their curiosity. They were everywhere but in the boilers, guns, powder magazine, or water-tanks. Although 'a she,' the Cerberus is not a ladies ship; there are no broad stairs with bright balustrades about her; no bondoir like cabins; everything around one from stem to stern reminds one of the painful necessities of war.
There is a cruel, cold, hard look about everything, that although you may admire the wonderful machinery employed, and the substantial manner in which the ship is built, you cannot fancy that any man could be happy on board of her. Yet "use is second nature," and the sailors will soon get so accustomed to be hermetically sealed up, and breathe air artificially supplied, that they will cease to regret the more comfortable and buoyant ships of the olden days. Be this as it may, the look of the vessel in no way deterred delicate ladies, bold girls, equally bold boys, from diving down to the lowest depths they were allowed to go, into dungeon-like compartments smelling of green oil, and into dark corners about the lower deck. The apertures at the top of the ladders were very small, the ladders were steep and narrow, and at first sight frightened many a fair one, "Oh, no; I never could get down there;" but the temptation was not to be resisted. One and all showed that they had inherited Mother Eve's legacy, and braving every danger and the impudent boys who would persist in standing near the bottom of the ladder, ventured down into, to them, unknown depths, or crawled through the open portholes of the turrets to the detriment of their dresses and the charming disarrangement of ponderous head gear.
It was pleasing to notice the invariable courtesy shown them by the chief officer Mr. Pounds, and the men under him. Few men could have had their patience more tried, but they rather seemed to like being asked questions about the ship, no matter how absurd those questions happened to be, and it was a noticeable fact that men and boys appeared to be proud of their ship, but, as we subsequently found out, for very different reasons. The men liked her because she answered all their expectations as a sea-going ship. Few of them would be afraid of going home in her just as she is, without bulwarks, and they are sure she will fight well when wanted.
The following will show why the Nelson boys like her : - Gentleman - "Well, boy, which ship do you like best, the Nelson or the Cerberus?" Boy - "Oh, the 'Cerberous'." Gentleman - "Why?" Boy - "Because she is a better ship." Astonished and delighted with the lad for having studied the qualities of the vessel, the gentleman further questioned - "But then the Nelson is larger; there is more room in it for you to knock about." "Oh, yes," said the boy, "but you see we get better tucker on board the 'Cerberous'."
And away the lad bolted through a hole in the deck as he saw the chief officer approach, and the gentleman sorrowfully retired. The intelligent boy had made his belly and not his brain decide upon the merits of a ship. We are aware that the Cerberus has been described over and over again, but perhaps the following particulars may be of use to those who may visit her during her stay in Geelong. Her dimensions are as follows : -
Length, 225 feet over all; breadth of beam, 45 feet; depth of hold, 16 ½ feet. She is 2108 tons register, her engines are of 250 horse-power, and there are eight other engines for working the turrets and ventilating fans. Her guns are of ten inch bore, and, with a charge of 45 lb. of powder, will sent a 400 lb. ball or shell five miles. When battering a fort a 60 lb. charge of powder will be used. Her total weight is between 3100 and 3200 tons, and her cost is fully £150,000. When she has her full crew on board she will have 108 men and boys, at present she has only 80. The guns weigh 18 tons, and to those who have not recently been home and seen modern guns they will appear perfect monsters, but would be nothing alongside of the 35-ton gun, with which the Devastation is armed. Big as they are, the appliances are so perfect, that only seven men, the same as with a very much smaller gun, are required to work them, and one man, by means of the pulleys provided, can place the shot into the muzzle of the gun. At present the lower deck is three or four feet above the water; but when fighting, it would only be about two feet above the waterline, and this two feet is plated with armour eight inches thick, with a teak backing of nine inches. The turrets can be made to revolve once in a minute.
During the early morning yesterday the Cerberus was somewhat neglected, the weather being rather unfavourable. Towards one o'clock, however, the sun commenced to shine brightly, and people came trooping down the jetties in crowds. There was a large influx of visitors from Ballarat by the excursion train, the number being considerably in excess of that of the previous day. Altogether seven carriages, containing some 300 passengers, arrived at the station by the train referred to. These, mixed with the gaily dressed throng of country people and Geelongese, hastened down to the wharf, and from one o'clock until between five and six the bay presented the same appearance as on Monday. Indeed, if anything, more people paid their respects to the ironclad. During the day there was a slight dispute between the Geelong and Sandridge boatmen with respect to the right to a certain portion of the wharf, but this was speedily settled by Captain Nicholson, and nothing occurred to mar the harmony of the proceedings.
The crush on board the Cerberus was at times unpleasant, and it would be well if some system were introduced by which people were prevented from taking up their lodgings on board for the day. There were plenty who went yesterday who really wished to acquire information, see something of the mechanism, but were unable to do so owing to the stationary crowd. The turrets were generally crammed full of people, and throughout the place it was a continual case of "move on," which only permitted a passing glance where five minutes could have been well spent. There were scores of people yesterday who remained on board for hours after they had seen all they could see just for the sake of passing the time, never thinking how much their presence inconvenienced others who had not so much time to waste.
Every larrikin in the town who could by any means raise the required "threepence" appeared to be there all day, and it must therefore be admitted that a better system could be introduced. In our notice yesterday we stated the Cerberus was not a ladies' ship, but this did not by any means reduce the attendance of the fair sex, who were to be met with in every portion of the vessel.
We also noticed that many a bran-new hat got crushed, the owner having doubtless expected to find seven or eight feet 'tween decks instead of less than six, taking the girders into account. Our advice to visitors is to wear the shabbiest clothes they can if they mean to go below, new clothes can never be improved by a visit even when the Cerberus is put into regular "apple pie" order, which she certainly is not at the present moment. Some surprise has been expressed that the Mayor and Town Council have not received an official invitation to inspect the vessel, but doubtless this will be sent in due time, and in the meantime it may be stated that the vessel will be thrown open to the public again at 10 o'clock this morning, and further, that there is no present intention of hurrying away the vessel, and that it is quite possible she may remain over next week or longer.
There was a crowd on Monday to see the Cerberus, there was a bigger crowd on Tuesday, but on Wednesday it was indeed a "field day," the attendance of visitors being larger than ever. Over four hundred excursionists arrived by the Ballarat train at half-past ten, and those who knew what the Cerberus was like pitied a great many of them. Nearly all the men were clad in their best, and many of the ladies were in gorgeous array. Silks, satins, velvets, and chignons predominated, and one would have thought they intended going to a morning concert instead of a somewhat dirty vessel en deshabille. How feathers were crushed, velvets spotted, and silks for ever spoilt, would be a long tale to tell, and many a fair one will doubtless wish that the Cerberus had been farther out at sea.
Judging from the number of babies that came down by the train the population of Ballarat must be greatly on the increase, for there was no end to them, and how their poor mothers managed to carry them through the crowd "'tween decks" without accident occurring was something marvellous. The boatmen were unusually lively, and one and all appeared satisfied with the trade that they were doing. It is to be regretted, however, that an accident occurred that some say was premeditated, and others aver to the contrary. The Albion was leaving the Cerberus, when the steam tug Sophia, approaching, ran into her, and splitting her mainsail rendered her useless for the remainder of the day.
We learnt during the day that Captain Panter had invited the Mayor and members of the Town Council to visit his vessel, but on what day was not elicited. Seeing the immense traffic caused by the cheap fares, the Mayor telegraphed to the Hon. the Commissioner of Railways and suggested that a similar tariff should be in force for some days to come, as there cannot be the least doubt that the rush to see the ironclad has not been half finished. Mr. C. Dyte, of Ballarat, telegraphed to the Government to the same effect, as he was confident that hundreds of Ballarat people would be glad to avail themselves of the opportunity. On Saturday the industrial school children are to visit the Cerberus, and on Saturday afternoon, by kind permission of Captain Panter, the Nelson band will play in the Botanical Gardens. Arrangements are in progress for feting the boys of the Cerberus.
The Cerberus was visited yesterday, despite the bad weather, by several hundreds of young and old; but particularly the former. There was an evident decrease in the arrivals per excursion train from Ballarat, and the attraction of the Ploughing Match probably tended to reduce the number of Geelong visitors. Still, with all these drawbacks, the boatmen were constantly employed. The steamer did but little, and the boats had it all their own way; but the owners had to work for their money, the Bay being becalmed during the afternoon, and oars having to supply the place of sails. Among those who inspected the ironclad, a considerable number of school children were conspicuous. Of course, there was a fund of enjoyment for them in the sail and the view, but on board the Cerberus itself the decks were wet, strewed with fragments of buns and the skins of oranges, and things were anything but comfortable.
In the dark regions below, where the light of day is excluded, and the smell of oil predominates, there were not a few explorers. A view of the Nelson boys sitting at their mess-tables by the light of a few candles and kerosene lanterns making a hearty repast of hot tea minus milk, and bread minus butter, was one of the least edifying exhibitions of the interior. There were fewer ladies on board to inspect the ironclad yesterday than on previous occasions, but here again the weather comes in. An accident occurred during the afternoon, which trivial in its results was of an amusing kind, and ought to operate as a caution to the fair sex to "look before they leap," especially on board of an ironclad. Mrs. Stoneham, of the Providence Rise Boarding-house, accompanied by several young ladies, was visiting the Cerberus in one of the boats that was plying for hire, but on reaching the ironclad, instead of stepping to the bow she caught hold of the iron rail of the war steamer just as the portion of the boat on which she stood began to swing round. The result was that the lady was momentarily extended in a perpendicular position between the boat and the railing, and then finding that she could not recover herself, she had involuntarily to surrender herself to the elements. The boatman, in his efforts to save his passenger from the immersion that she suffered, had a narrow escape from sharing her moist fate.
It is stated that the Nelson boys have now quite a novel sort of diet. Hitherto they have only been accustomed to ship's stores, but Capt. Panter believes that since their visit to Geelong they have lived almost entirely on cakes and oranges; be that as it may, it is a notable fact that oranges have suddenly changed in value from 7s. to 8s. per case, and the cause is attributed to the visit of the Cerberus, which maybe taken for what it is worth. The Members of the Corporation have been invited by Captain Panter to visit the Cerberus on Monday; their visit will be made at 10 a.m., and about an hour afterwards the children of the Ryrie Street Industrial School are to arrive. They will be followed by the inmates of the Myers Street establishment, who are to be on board at 12 o'clock. At 2 p.m. the children of the orphanages, together with their attendants, will likewise visit the ironclad. The boats for conveying the children of these institutions to and from the Cerberus will be provided by the Mayor, and during the day others will be strictly excluded.
Arrangements are on the tapis for giving the Nelson Boys an entertainment, and Mr. Upton has been working indefatigably with that object. This will probably come off early next week, and the commodious school-room at the Myers Street industrial school is promised for the purpose.
Many would have thought that having been a week at Geelong, and, having during that time been visited by so many thousands, the Victorian Ironclad would have lost her attraction; but it is not so. On Saturday, from ten until nearly six o'clock, the attendance of visitors from town and all parts of the district continued to be as large as ever. During the day the Hon. the Treasurer paid her a visit, and as he was going off in the Captain's gig, he was greeted with rounds of hearty cheers from the boatmen and hundreds of people on the wharf, and on his return from the vessel was hailed in similar fashion. During his stay on board advantage was taken of the small engine at work condensing water to show how the turrets would revolve. This appeared to be a very simple affair, by pushing a handle backwards or forwards the turret was made to revolve in the easiest manner possible, either one way or the other, and stop quite suddenly when desired, and to see this large mass of iron, with the heavy guns inside, revolve with such facility, caused very general surprise.
During the afternoon the iron clipper, the Loch Leven, was towed up the bay, and was moored within a short distance of the ironclad, and the contrast between the two vessels was very striking. The Loch Leven was as beautiful a model as the Cerberus was an ugly one, and the latter was made to look insignificant indeed. The Loch Leven with her painted ports looked somewhat like an old man-of-war, and if one had not known the terribly strong bite the colonial "watch dog" possessed, and the great amount of punishment it could take, one would have felt inclined to imagine that the clipper, with the muzzle of a gun protruding from every port, could have sunk the ironclad in a very short time. One shot from the Cerberus, however, would have materially spoilt her beauty, and if it had struck her under the water-line, would have caused her to go and see if the whole of the Lightning had really been cleared away from the bottom of our harbour.
On Sunday there was even a more numerous attendance than on Saturday or on any day during the preceding week, it being estimated that fully three thousand visitors went on board. The owners of the Despatch again placed their fine steamer at the disposal of the public free of charge; she made four trips, and on each occasion could not have had fewer than 500 persons on board, and in the evening made a fifth trip to bring off the stragglers. During the afternoon two accidents occurred. A small rowing boat which had been left unguarded, got jammed between the Despatch and the Cerberus and had her lines considerably altered, and a young lad fell off the ironclad into the bay. He was smoking at the time, and rose to the surface with a pipe still in his mouth, and swam to a boat. His cool behaviour caused no little amusement; he seemed rather to enjoy his ducking than otherwise, and was afterwards heard to declare, that it was the first bathe he had had for some time, and it was "stunning."
There can be no mistake about it, the visit of the Cerberus has done a deal of good to Geelong. It has brought us thousands of visitors, who must have spent some money, and it is pleasing therefore to be able to notify that she is to stay here another week.
In response to an invitation issued by Captain Panter the members of the Corporation paid a visit to the Cerberus on Monday, the ship having been closed, so far as the public were concerned, to allow of them thoroughly inspecting every portion, from the flying deck to the hold. The civic party, which consisted of the Mayor, the ex-Mayor, Aldermen Reeves, Mathews, Whitchell, and Garratt; Councillors Hitchcock, Morris, Hopton, Veitch, Hunt, Hill, Upton, Noonan, the town clerk, the town treasurer, the town surveyor, the market inspector, and a number of ladies, left the Moorabool wharf, in several sailing boats, shortly after ten o'clock, and on arriving at the ironclad were received by Captain Panter, his officers, and crew, and by them escorted throughout the ship.
Almost every portion of her intricate machinery was minutely described, and the guns in the foremost turret run out and in just to show how simply and easily a mass of iron weighing twenty-eight tons could be moved. The names of the gentlemen who escorted the party round the ship and paid them so much attention were, Mr. Pounds, the chief officer, who appears to be a great favorite with the boys of the Nelson, who have for years past been under his supervision; Mr.Prideaux, second officer; Mr Williamson, under whose supervision the ship was built, and his assistant, Mr. Campbell; Mr. Leslie, the chief engineer, and Mr. Breaks, his assistant. All these gentlemen appeared to be very proud of the ship and spared no pains to make all her merits understood. During the stay of the members of the council the Nelson band played a choice selection of music. Unfortunately the morning visit which had commenced so favourably was terminated rather abruptly in consequence of drizzling showers of rain, which rendered the decks dangerous to walk upon.
Just as the Mayor was taking his departure in the first boat, the children from the Ragged School and Protestant Orphan Asylum began to arrive. Then for the space of two or three hours the Cerberus was full of children, with here and there a teacher vainly endeavouring to look after them, and keep them out of danger. At least six hundred children had been expected, but only some three or four hundred were allowed to take advantage of the opportunity offered. Perhaps it was as well that it should have been so for the Cerberus is not a safe place for so many young children to be sent to. The children from the Protestant and Catholic Orphanages were brought down to the wharf in two four-horse coaches, kindly furnished for the occasion by the Western Stage Company, while the Industrial School children were conveyed to the same place by the cabmen, who also placed their services at the disposal of the children. By the Geelong coach and cab proprietors the whole of the children were handed over to the owners of the Corio, Lightning, Ariel, Cambridge Lass, Rob Roy, Seven Sisters, and Our Hope, who had emulated the kindness shown on shore, and the children appeared to enjoy their short sail amazingly.
The Protestant Orphan Asylum and Ragged School children were the first to arrive, and they were followed by the children of the Industrial Schools, who came up singing their little voices blending pleasantly with the strains of the Nelson band. Then followed the children of the Catholic Orphanages.
Altogether, as near as could be ascertained, the following was the attendance of children : - Ryrie Street Industrial School, under the charge of Miss Maher, 128, chiefly girls; Myers Street School, under the charge of Miss Inch, 90; Protestant Orphan Asylum, 12 girls and 25 boys, in charge of Mr. Wilson and Mrs. Cox; Catholic Orphanage, under the charge of Mr. Ryan, about 60; Ragged School, about 40, making a total of about 355 children, whose merry voices in every portion of the vessel, made its iron sides ring again. They were evidently in high glee; they were delighted with the little sailors, the little sailors were delighted with them, and manly a mystery was to them unfolded. The engines, the ward-room, the pilot-tower, the captain's cabin, the kitchen, the dungeon - all were dilated upon, especially the latter, into which many saucy youngsters entered with trembling footsteps, afraid lest their companions should close the door upon them.
And here it will not be out of place to mention a little incident that occurred during the day's proceedings. The Nelson boys, or at least many of them,. Clubbed together to give their youthful visitors a treat. As might have been expected, they have received many a sixpence during their stay in Geelong, from visitors, for showing them over the vessel; they have also been liberally supplied with oranges and cakes. Remembering this, and, perhaps, thinking their visitors had not been equally fortunate, they subscribed nearly 30s. between them, one giving a penny, another a sixpence, a third a shilling, according to their means, one named James Ikins giving 7s. 7½d., and another, named - Hughes, giving as much as 10s. This money they placed in the hands of their bandmaster, who went ashore to buy oranges, cakes and lollies for the visiting children; they also gave three days allowance of biscuits.
Unfortunately before he returned most of the children had gone away, and upon it being put to them the boys determined that the things that had been purchased should be sent up to the Industrial Schools, and this was done. There was nothing during the whole of the day that made a more pleasing impression, than the kind action done by these poor boys. Many of them who are now so well disciplined were declared a few months ago irreclaimable larrikins with whom the Melbourne police could do nothing. From a pleasing, it is now our duty to attend to an unpleasant incident. Just as the officers were at mess news arrived that an accident had occurred. A boy named Thomas Roberts, of the Protestant Orphan Asylum, had fallen a distance of some twelve feet down a stoke hole, and it was the greatest wonder imaginable he was not killed. As it was, he struck a piece of iron work, which inflicted a very nasty gash just above the temple, laying bare the bone in three places, fortunately not fracturing the skull. He was carefully attended by Mr. Pounds and one of the young ladies in charge of the school, and subsequently by Dr. Nicholson, from Ballarat, who happened to be on board. Subsequently, his wound was dressed at the Hospital, and he was sent home. It will probably leave him marked for life, and, as said before, was a miraculous escape.
The children had all left by three, and then the Mystery, which had replaced the Sophia, and a number of boats commenced to arrive. The weather cleared up, the Band played, the wet decks became dry, and all again was gaiety and enjoyment. The Cerberus will not be thrown open before midday during the remainder of her stay, as it has been found absolutely impossible to get her into anything like a cleanly condition with such crowds of people flocking to her from dawn till dusk.
The conduct pursued by the Nelson boys in subscribing their mite towards entertaining their little visitors from the Industrial Schools on Monday attracted the attention of our popular comedian - we say "our" for Mr. Coppin was originally a Geelong man - and he determined, as he said, on the part of the people of Geelong, to give them a treat in return. He invited them - and, in fact, all the crew and officers of the ironclad - to witness the "Serious Family" and the "Wandering Minstrel." These were considered a treat by all who saw them, and, as for the Nelson boys they were in ecstasies throughout the evening. It was the first performance many of them had ever seen, and their peals of laughter did everyone good to listen to. They were brought on shore in Capt. Hayes's Lightning, and Mr. Pont's Cambridge Lass, and then headed by their band marched up to the Mechanics' Hall. Here the band found accommodation in and near the orchestra, and played some selections during the intervals.
With respect to the "Serious Family," they were "serious" to all intents and purposes for a time. Mr. Coppin's "Aminadab Sleek" was one of the most clever impersonations of a canting hypocrite that we have ever seen. He is a good "Jem Bags," a telling "Milky White," but as "Aminadab" he excels. Morris Barnett, who wrote the piece, would have failed to pick out a fault, and have felt delighted at the clever portraiture placed before him. In the "Serious Family" appeared another great favorite, Mrs. Darrell, who, as Mrs. Robert Heir, used to charm the play-going public of Geelong. Mrs. Ormsby Dalmain was one of her very best characters, and last night she showed that her long absence from Geelong and her residence in the country of earthquakes, New Zealand, had in no way diminished her power to charm. Captain McGuire was entrusted to the custody of Mr. Ireland, an actor whose acting always seems better than when last enjoyed. He last evening had many difficulties to contend against. The lamented G. V. Brooke was the last Captain McGuire in Geelong, and Mr. Ireland had never played the character before. He was a little nervous, and now and again forgot the text, but still be achieved a decided success.
Of Mrs. Greville's "Mrs. C. Torrens," the character suited her like all truthful loving characters will. Mrs. Woolridge's "make up" as Lady Sowerby Creamly was excellent, and there were few points she failed to take. Mr. Sefton had but little to do as Charles Rivers, but was as successful as opportunity permitted. Mr. Darrell's Charles Torrens was a mistake, Danvers would have been easier for him to play. At the conclusion of the comedy there was a round of loud and continued applause, and as the members of the company marched in front of the curtain the public showed their judgment by applauding Aminadab Sleek, Mrs. Ormsby Delmaine, Mrs. Sowerby Creamly, Mrs. C. Torrens, Captain McGuire, and we had nearly done the young lady an injustice, Miss Douglass, who was the Emma of the piece.
Mr. Coppin stepped in front of the "baize," and made the following telling speech, amidst repeated rounds of applause : - "Ladies and Gentlemen, -- In responding to your call, permit me to say that I fully reciprocate the gratification you have just expressed, - for it affords me as much pleasure to see the faces of my old friends and townsmen of Geelong as it can possibly give you to witness my performance. Loud applause.) Whilst speaking, I trust you will allow me to address a few words to our guests this evening. I say our guests, as I wish the event to be accepted as a compliment from the inhabitants of Geelong. (Applause.)
Boys of the Nelson, I will take this opportunity of telling you why I came on board the Cerberus for the purpose of asking your commanding officer to give his permission for you to visit the entertainment here this evening. I read in the newspaper that you had been very kind to the orphan children of this place; that you placed a portion of your daily food on one side for the purpose of entertaining them, and I wish to show you that such generous conduct will never go unrewarded. (Loud applause.) Pursue this principle through life, and it will not only assist your own advancement, but it will also afford you the gratification of feeling that you have done your duty to your fellow creatures in misfortune.
Your religious instruction will teach you - and as you grow older you will thoroughly understand that there is a reward in store for such noble conduct far beyond any recognition you can receive in this world. (Cheering and applause.) I intend to make you a small return for the refreshments you gave to the poor children that visited the Cerberus in the shape of some buns and ginger-beer after the performances are over this evening, and I trust that the amusement you have derived from the performance will impress upon your minds that your success through life depends entirely upon your own good conduct. You are being educated to take a position in society by a liberal Government, and if you continue to carry out the principles you have just exhibited to the poor children of Geelong, an honorable career is before you that leads you on to prosperity and happiness, and if at any time you require a friend or an advocate, so long as you continue this line of conduct, you shall always find one in the funny man you saw at the play-house in Geelong.
Ladies and gentlemen, I must apologise for occupying your time, but as this is the first dramatic performance these boys have seen, it is sure to make a great impression upon their minds, and if at the same time they can associate the few words of advice I have given, it may tend partly to their advantage in the battle of life they have before them. (Loud applause.)" "Jem Bags" wound up a most pleasing entertainment, and, as the public arose, "God save the Queen" by the Nelson Band caused all heads to be uncovered. The Nelson boys afterwards enjoyed Mr. Coppin's hospitality, and vociferously cheered him as he left the hall. He takes his benefit this evening - need more be said to ensure a bumper house?
The Mayor having entertained the officers, the people of the town determined to entertain the crew, and for some days past great preparations were made to treat them with an abundant hospitality. The Mayor and Councillor Morris took a very active part in these preparations, as did also the members of the United Sabbath School Teachers' Association. Hams, tongues, beef, sweetmeats, cakes and fruits poured in from all directions, and on Friday the grand festival took place. The Ariel and the Corio were kindly placed at the disposal of the committee, and in these yachts at two o'clock the men and boys were brought ashore. Here they were taken on "board" two large coaches, provided by the Western Stage Company free of charge, each of which was drawn by four horses, and, the band playing gay tunes, they were driven through the principal streets of the town, and thence to the Botanical Gardens.
Unfortunately - owing to the rain that had fallen over night - no vehicles were admitted into the Gardens, it being feared they would cut up the roads. This, however, was not allowed to interfere with the enjoyment of the visitors, who, headed by a van loaded with creature comforts, marched through the sweetly smelling and bright gold coloured wattles down to Picnic Dell. Here the cloth was laid on the sward, and men and boys were invited by Cr. Morris to "set to." This they did with a will, and the marvellously rapid manner in which the many delicacies provided were made to disappear, showed that the ride and walk had by no means spoilt anybody's appetite. Corks could be heard popping out of ginger-beer and lemonade bottles in all directions, and for some time nothing else was heard. Then, when mastication had ended joyous peals of laughter began to be heard through the trees as the youngsters rushed after a football, or competed in the races, and all appeared to be happy and gay, in spite of a few showers, which probably seriously interfered with the attendance of visitors, who numbered between 600 and 700, including the Mayor, the ex-Mayor, and many of our leading citizens.
Councillor Morris was the master of ceremonies, and to him a considerable amount of credit is due for the very excellent manner in which the whole of the arrangements were carried out. He appeared to be in his glory among the little sailor lads, who will doubtless bear him in kind remembrance for many a year to come. He managed to collect several pounds for them, and started races, football matches, hop-step-and-jump, and other pastimes. All good things, however, must come to an end, and between four and five o'clock the bugle sounded, and with the band playing "Garry Owen," the youngsters marched up to the Myers Street Industrial School. On passing the Ryrie Street school they were joined by 112 children, and on arriving at their destination found another 140 children waiting to receive them. The girls were feasted downstairs, whilst the boys were taken up into the schoolroom, and if ever boys and girls enjoyed themselves it was in that school on Friday evening. The members of the Teachers' Association performed their duties as hosts in the most liberal manner. They did not give poor tea, or "hide and seek" plum cake. Everything was of the best, and was enjoyed by young and old. After tea they marched down to the -
The appearance of the hall was indicative of the forthcoming festivities. Wreathes of evergreens hung from the pillars of the walls, affording a bold contrast with the whiteness beneath, while the place was filled to overflowing with an assemblage of beaming faces. On the platform the Mayor presided, supported by a number of well-known gentlemen, comprising the principal promoters of the entertainment - Messrs. Morris, Shirra and Hopton. The Nelson boys were seated round the council table, the band being at the end, while around them were the children of the Industrial Schools together with their matrons and attendants. There was also a large number of ladies and gentlemen, including most of the aldermen and councillors. The proceedings commenced with an overture, played by the band, after which some excellent singing was given by Mr. Joyce and a few friends. This was succeeded by some vocal music by the children of the Industrial Schools, and afforded a good introduction to the addresses. The Rev. C. S. Y. Price was the first to address the audience. He remarked that they might go a long way before they would witness such a sight as they had done that day, and that they might travel a long time before so much happiness would be enjoyed. He complimented the boys upon their good looks, and remarked that they had done ample justice to the cakes and other good things provided for them in the Myers Street School.
Probably the hospitality shown would cause them to think highly of Geelong after they left it, and when they returned again he trusted they would meet with the same hearty reception. Having partaken of a good spread they had laid a good foundation for their other enjoyments, and he would now address them on what he considered a good foundation for the character. The first element required was truth. They should always speak the truth, and never be ashamed of it. It mattered not what came of it, the truth was a priceless jewel, and it was always safer to speak the truth than tell a lie. They would inspire confidence and trust by so doing. He never knew a boy or a man who told the truth but had other good qualities, and who did not get on in the world; and he never knew one who was addicted to false-hood and a trimmer that did well. If they valued their future prospects and success in life they would avoid liars and bad companions. Boys and men who did not tell the truth were generally disagreeable fellows, full of tricks and deception, while those who told the truth were invariably good, honest, generous, and manly in their actions. There was a good song, "Always speak the truth," and he commended its sentiment.
But there was another thing that was necessary - to be industrious. Lazy fellows were a nuisance. (Laughter.) They were only good to stand in the doorway and stop the draught. If he had his will with lazy people he would pitch them all into Corio Bay, and when they scrambled out work them hard till such time as they formed industrious habits. (Laughter.) Did they know what the bees did with the lazy ones? Well, they stung them to death. He asked them to work hard, to be industrious, tell the truth, and they would have two good foundation stones on which to form their character. But there was something else they had to do. They should always look up. Never let fear keep them in the back ground, but always expect to get on in the world - one day to be their own master, and sooner or later to reach the top of the tree. There was nothing like a good ambition. He impressed upon them the necessity of recollecting also at all times that there was a God over-ruling all things, who knew their thoughts, heard the words they uttered, and watched their conduct and actions, in conclusion he asked them to lay these words to heart, to speak the truth, be industrious, look hopefully before them, fear God, and they would succeed in this life, and fare well in the life to come. (Cheers.) The address was followed by some further music from the band, and later in the evening the Inspector of Industrial Schools, Mr. Duncan, stated that it gave him great pleasure to be present on such an occasion.
He had always been delighted with the entertainments that the people of Geelong provided for the Industrial School children. In his report of these institutions, and also on other occasions, he had remarked that he had witnessed something in Geelong that he had not seen anywhere else - a hearty co-operation on the part of the inhabitants, in ministering to the comforts and pleasure of the children, and he thanked them for it. (Cheers). The Nelson boys enjoyed the treat they had received when they last visited Geelong, and he knew that for days and weeks after they returned to their ship that they talked over it, and had a grateful recollection of their friends. In conclusion he remarked that they should remember the kindness experienced with gratitude and affection, and that he trusted it would stimulate them in the future to become good citizens.
The Rev. G. Slade also delivered an excellent address to the girls, which he interspersed with several pleasing anecdotes. During the intervals between the addresses some good singing was given by the children of both schools, Mr. Steadman, jun., accompanying the singers on the pianoforte. The principal music, however, was contributed by Mr. Joyce and his friends, of whom some of the ladies possessed a remarkable compass of voice. Mr. Reeves diversified the entertainment by performing several clever feats, similar to those by means of which some popular wizards have attracted very large audiences. After a very happy evening the entertainment concluded by the band playing "Rule Britannia," and the children of the schools and boys of the Cerberus, proceeded exactly at 9 o'clock to the respective destinations.
On Saturday 26th. August, a trial of the rate of speed of the iron-clad Cerberus was made during a trip from Williamstown to Geelong. The weather was very propitious, the wind being light and the water as smooth as a mill-pond, so that during the whole of the trip it was possible to walk on the lower deck without the slightest fear of getting wet feet. Shortly after ten o'clock the anchor was weighed, and she steamed out into the Bay, drawing 14ft. 8in. As she passed the mail steamer Rangoon, the latter saluted by dipping her ensign, but the civility was not recognised. As soon as the lightship was passed a full head of steam was put on, and a trial of her speed made. It was then found that with the engines working at eighty-six revolutions per minute a speed of 7.8 knots per hour was obtained with only 23 lb. to 24 lb. of steam instead of the working quantity of 30 lb.
The course of the huge projectile was plainly perceptible through the air, and when it struck the water, some distance short of the mark, a column of water was thrown up to a height of about 20 feet. The shell then ricochetted at right angles from its previous course. A few seconds after the shell had entered the water it exploded, and sent up a tremendous fountain of spray. Some idea of the terrific nature of the charge was given by the fact that an iron stanchion, 1 ½ in. thick, which had been left near, but not nearly opposite the mouth of the gun, was bent like a twig by the force of the powder alone. None of the Naval Reserve men were on board the Cerberus on Saturday, her crew consisting, in addition to the men who belong to her, of four seamen from the Victoria, six additional stokers, and sixty boys from the Nelson, together with the band of the latter vessel.
When just outside Geelong bar, Captain Nicholson, harbormaster, boarded her, and piloted her into an anchorage at a very short distance from the end of the jetty. On the arrival of the Cerberus Geelong looked well. Steamers and boats of all descriptions crowded with curious spectators plied in the Bay, while the jetties and any eminence from which a view of the vessel could be obtained were also crowded with sightseers. Notwithstanding that the Cerberus was to remain in Corio Bay during the ensuing week, no sooner was she brought to an anchor than she was crowded with people, who swarmed into every part of her, and minutely examined the novelties.
The Cerberus, after having remained in Geelong Harbour for nearly three weeks, and gratified the curiosity of many thousand visitors, weighed anchor yesterday morning at half-past seven. With the aid of steam the anchor was quickly raised; the simplicity of the patent windlass was seen to advantage, and performed its office most effectively. Captain Nicholson, our Harbour-master, was on board to render advice to Captain Panter, should he require it, in navigating his ship-of-war through the ship channel. She accomplished the passage without any accident, and Captain Nicholson took his departure, the vessel going under easy steam, and having accompanied the distance in about an hour, passing over the bar at low water, so that in the event of any accident occurring, she would be floated off at the next high tide.
The ship steers wildly, being so ponderous, that so soon as the rudder is brought to act, unless the action is immediately checked she gets too much weigh on her. The wheel upon the upper deck was used, and four men, and sometimes eight boys additional, were employed in steering. The twin screws and the four engines were in operation, and the highest speed attained was 9 knots, with 86 revolutions of the screw.
When about half the voyage was accomplished the rudder rope broke; this caused some delay before the ropes attached to the steering apparatus in the 'tween decks was fixed to the rudder. The rope used was made of green hide, and the rats, with which the vessel is infested, had in a couple of nights made such inroads into it that it gave way under the strain. The ship kept near the Portarlington shore, and the fertile hills had a most pleasing appearance, tinted as they were with various hues of green produced by the variety of crops. The band, composed of the Nelson boys, played some enlivening music, which seemed a signal for the porpoises to gambol round the ship; they were not frightened by this "dog of war." Hobson's Bay was reached soon after two o'clock, and she brought up near the Nelson and Blanche. The passage was a pleasant and interesting one. The officers appear to have enjoyed their sojourn in Geelong, and left the place with regret. We hear it is Captain Panter's intention to exercise the naval brigade with gun practice today.