21 OCTOBER 1922, Page 31


EVERY resident in Portsmouth and every visitor has been conscious of an aching gap in the harbour since Nelson's famous ship the `-Victory ' was -removed. She was- taken away-for a survey and the report on her condition is serious. The Admiralty has come to the conclusion that the necessary repairs and the cost of converting the ship to her original rig—her rig as she fought at Trafalgar—would cost a larger sum than can be provided out of the Navy Votes. 'Is the ' Victory ' therefore to perish '? Is she to sink into the mud and be allowed gradually to decay, or is she to be broken up for firewood ? For our part we cannot reconcile our- selves to the thought that this glorious piece of naval architecture, which is a vision of sheer delight and which is steeped in the history of England, should be so treated.

The Admiralty has suggested that though it cannot pay for the ' Victory ' her preservation as a National Monument—for that is how she ought to be regarded— should be considered as a national duty. The Admiralty has therefore allowed the Society for-Nautical Research to act as expert advisers on the matter and to . appeal to the Empire for the necessary funds. The Society most appropriately makes its appeal on Trafalgar Day, and " dull would he be of soul " who did not give his mite to save the ' Victory.' Sir Doveton Sturdee is Chairman of the Save the ' Victory ' Fund ; Mr. McKenna is the Hon. Treasurer ; and the Headquarters of the Fund are at Wargrave House, Camberley, Surrey.

The keel of the ' Victory' was laid in 1759 at Chatham. She is a three-decker of 3,400 tons gross and she used to carry 104 guns. Of course, she is different now from what she was in Nelson's' day. Relieved of much of her weight she floats higher. Her masts and spars are much smaller. Her gun ports have been enlarged into windows. The original figure-head has gone ; the bow and stern have been altered. Though she is essen- tially the ship that carried Kempenfelt and Nelson and fought at Ushant, at the relief of Gibraltar, at St. Vincent, at the Nile, and at Trafalgar, she would be a still finer National Monument if she were restored to her original appearance. This we understand can be done.

Mr. Geoffrey Callender, who in The Story of the ' Victory' has written the history of the ship, has reproduced _ Nicholas Pocock's picture of her as she used to be. There is no reason why she should not be restored to that majestic form. The decks, which are now too much encumbered, could be cleared. The port lids could be replaced. Masts, spars and rigging could be restored on the old model. The modern guns used for firing salutes should be banished. It would be as easy, as Mr. Callender has said, to reconstruct the stern as it was for the Admiralty to replace the three great lanterns in 1911. If large subscriptions fail why should not a penny or a sixpenny subscription be opened for the whole Empire ? Surely everybody wants to save the ' Victory.' Everybody, if he has not done so already, wants to experi- ence the thrill which comes to an Englishman when he steps on board and sees that brass plate with the simple words, "Here Nelson fell." Thackeray said truly, " The bones of the ' Victory ' ought to be sacred relics for Englishmen to worship almost."