10 DECEMBER 1859, Page 14


A CORRESPONDENT in Paris has forwarded to us the following letter embodying some information touching a plan suggested by Mr. Mackay in the Times for increasing the number and. efficiency of sailors for the commercial marine. We lay it before our readers as an opportune contribution to the facts of the discussion—

"Mr. Mackay advises the appropriation and fitting up of men-of-war unfit for service to be used as training-ships for boys. "A similar course, patronized some fifteen years ago in Toulon, Marseilles, Bordeaux, Nantes, and Brest, and Cherbourg, has been almost entirely abandoned, except in one or two parts, where the result of the system has, through some local cause, proved a little loss unsatisfactory. The principal objection is that the general utility of these Ecoles de Mousses,' is out of proportion with their cost, and that neither the mili- tary nor the commercial navy is sensibly benefited by them. I have collected a few facts and statistics to which the well-known parsimony of French ministerial departments compared with the more liberal views of English institutions, cannot but give increased strength in showing the smallness of results.

"The Emilie de Mousses' were receiving yearly on an average 460 boys, from fourteen to sixteen years of age, and their annual expenditure was as follows:—

Salaries of officers, professors, surgeons.... 66,000 francs Provisions and victuals 150,000 „ Clothing 27,000

„ Keeping up of ships 62,000

„ Say.... 307,000 francs

or a little over £12,000.

Out of this number of boys educated, trained, fed, and clothed at the expense of the Government or of Chambers of Commerce, not one-fourth remained, either in the military or commercial service, after their first voyage, and not one-tenth become ultimately able seamen. It is scarcely necessary to add that the agreement entered into by their parents to reimburse the expenses in case the boys would not devote themselves to seafaring life has proved entirely delusive. "Would a similar event take place in England ? I know not ; but I state, without fear of being contradicted, that applied to France, Mr. Mackay's plan, however well intended, has not been efficacious in in- creasing the number of sailors. With reference to the ability no better success has been obtained ; and the prejudice against this class of boys has become so great that the masters of ships have refused altogether to engage them. "In fact, the best school for sailors is the wide sea ; not rotten ships at their moorings, but real and effectual navigation ; not occasional trips to the Nore or a few tacks in the Rade de Brest. "Within the last ten years the number of able seamen in France has largely increased, owing, it is said, to the enforcement of some old regu- lation bearing that each vessel, large or small, fishing, coasting, or high sea-going, should have on board a number of boys proportionate to the crew, say one for every twenty men and under. "Is this plan carried out to some extent in England, and would the shipowners submit to what seems to be an inconvenience ? Who will take the initiative ? The Government or the shipping interest ? I merely make a suggestion ; but the example of France ought to show your countrymen that here is the remedy."