The Navy In The Thames
( Originally Published 1910 )
LONDONERS had a unique experience for one week during July. At the invitation of the Lord Mayor the Admiralty arranged for the Fleet to visit the Thames. From Southend to Westminster the mighty vessels were moored for the inspection of the British taxpayer. Needless to say, thousands of people took advantage of the opportunity afforded to become better acquainted with the different types of twentieth century battleships. The Dreadnoughts and larger cruisers remained near Southend, but gunboats, destroyers and torpedo boats ranged themselves along the higher reaches of the river, whilst opposite the Palace of Westminster were stationed a number of submarines. On the 21st of July, 1,200 men of the Fleet marched through the streets of London and were hospitably entertained by the Lord Mayor. The offncers were entertained at the Guildhall on the following day. The one disappointment of the visit was the absence of the fleet of Thames steamboats, which deprived the Londoner of the use of his national highway when inspecting the Fleet.
" OLD IRONSIDES."
Y, tear her tattered ensign down ! Long has it waved on high,
And many an eye has danced to see That banner in the sky !
Beneath it rung the battle shout,
And burst the cannon's roar The meteor of the ocean air Shall sweep the clouds no more !
Her deck, once red with heroes' blood,
Where knelt the vanquished foe, When winds were hurrying o'er the flood,
And waves were white below,
No more shall feel the victors' tread,
Or know the conquered knee :
The harpies of the shore shall pluck The eagle of the sea.
O better that her shattered hulk
Should sink beneath the wave ; Her thunders shook the mighty deep,
And there should be her grave ; Nail to the mast her holy flag,
Set every threadbare sail,
And give her to the God of storms, The lightning and the gale !
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES.