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[We have very great pleasure in publishing the following graphic description of the Baltic in 1855. Another admirable paper from the same pen, "Aland and the Baltic in 1854," will be in the recollection of our readers. The writer seems to us a worthy brother-in-arms of our gallant friend who has, month after month-with a regularity which no hardship, no difficulty, no labour could interrupt-sent to us a continuous, lucid, and often eloquent narrative of all that has taken place in the Crimea since the landing at Eupatoria.]
WHEN our fathers narrated the exploits and the venturous navigation-in peril and energy itself an exploit-which they had achieved during the last war in the North and Baltic seas, and told, by winter firesides, stories of the fierce storms, dangerous coasts, hairbreadth escapes off lee-shores, and fatal shipwrecks experienced therein, we of the rising generation had little right to suppose that we should, in our own lives, follow in their tracks, thread the same intricate channels, and become familiar with the scenes and places which were traditions of our boyhood.
The English Channel, the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, were all likely, and at times anticipated, scenes of action. They were well known, had been thoroughly navigated, well surveyed, and mapped. The Baltic, however, had entered little into our speculations as a seat of war, and was to ships of the navy almost a mare ignotum. Merchant-vessels had traversed it backwards and forwards, and visited all its different ports with their cargoes, but the professional know
ledge of its waters and shores was very small, and derived chiefly from foreign charts. The men of the last war, depending chiefly on their seamanship and enterprise, had added little to our scientific information on the subject, and left, as the result of their experience, only the warnings of disaster and a few oral records. The high hopes, therefore, which followed the departure of the first Baltic fleet, must have been dashed by a fear that some of those magnificent ships might return no more. Few could have anticipated that it would come back intact without accident or casualty. Yet so it was; and the nation, disappointed in other respects, must have hailed this fortunate result as a proof of the care and skill of its navigators, and the immunity given by steam-power from common dangers and difficulties.
This year there are no dark places. The gulfs, coasts, harbours, and headlands have been explored, and, as far as possible, surveyed. Notes had been made of the currents, the weather, and the "signs in the sky," so that
The Baltic in 1855.
the experience of the first campaign the hostile country, have no feature
If there was exaggeration in the dangers, there was no exaggeration in the unpicturesque and unromantic character of the Baltic cruises. As we looked, on our outward route, at the bold rocks of the Norwegian shore, rising dark and beetling, savage and sublime, the waves dashing wildly against them, and breaking into inlets between steep walls and heaped masses of rugged stone, we could well imagine how the fierce, stern northman-nature had been nurtured and fed amid such elements, and understand, if man's nature be affected by his habitation, how the love of adventure and spirit of enterprise which emanated thence, had not spread along the Baltic and Finnish shores.
It is certainly an uninspiring scene of action and endeavour that Baltic sea, with its branching gulfs of Finland and Bothnia. Dark fogs, chilling winds, and dull skies, make its The spring and autumn aspects. nerves fine, bracing cold, which whilst it chills, and strengthens where it pierces, is little felt there. The air, cold enough indeed, but impregnated ever with damp and mists, bears down with depressing influence on mind and body. The summers, warm and sultry, are not long enough, or brilliant enough, to revivify or But the brighten man nights-there is a compensation in them; the nights so long, so soft, so the calm, bright, and beautiful nights which are no nights, but a Yes! these calm, starry twilight. are compensations-these are hours to balance days of fogs and sultry heats. The winter, however, with its ice and snows, bracing breezes and clear skies, is perhaps, after all, the best and most stirring season in these climes.
Such was the scene in which the
are calm and smooth,
many long months-there it first greets trees, the masses of barracks, the us again on our return. Consequent- mole, and quays, which constitute ly, many a grateful thought belongs the New Town. to the little German town, with its woods and walks, its cafès, knickknacks, and its cheerful people.
After a short stay at Faro, to establish hospital and coal depôts, the fleet pushed on at once to Revel-the first of the naval stations-the first of the great strongholds. Revel lies on the south shore, just within the Gulf of Finland, which may be truly called a Russian lake, as she occupies both its shores and holds all its ports. Our ships anchored at the opening of the fine bay behind the island of Nargen, which shelters the west, whilst a long low promontory juts out on the east side, forming a snug, safe anchorage. Circling round the end of the bight, is the town. Our first look was at the fortifications. The picturesque yields to the professional in war times. They did not present an appearance of great strength: a large casemated fort and a battery on the mole seemed to comprise its defences. Presently a gun was seen peeping here and there from embrasures, and earthen batteries revealed themselves in every direction. The first work, as we advance from Nargen, is a small martello tower standing on a small island. In the round of the bight, the large fort opens upon us from its three tiers of 150 guns, and is enfiladed by another battery of 24 guns; to the right and left are smaller ones, covering and flanking these, all commanding the approaches to the town. This would doubtless be a formidable fire to encounter, but the water is deep within range of the shore. There is ample room to manoeuvre, and here, if anywhere, ships might assail the granite walls with a fair prospect of success. Darkly and grandly the Domberg or Old Town rises in the background. Towering on a basement of rugged rock, and surrounded by a buttressed wall, it has quite an old burgh looka shade of old-world picturesqueness, rare enough here, where most things bear a new-born stamp. The citadel, and the exclusive residence of the governor and nobility, it looks proudly down on the houses scattered along the plain, interspersed here and there with patches of green and clumps of
The winter station for a division of the fleet, and the commercial outlet for the produce of Esthonia, Revel is a place of great importance, and its destruction, if possible, would be a great blow to Russian power and Russian pride.
On the 25th of May the fleet again started onward up the gulf, and on the 31st took up its former station of observation off Cronstadt, the reboubtable stronghold which, next to Sebastopol, has excited most interest and expectation in men's minds, which has been the subject of so much speculation and theory. Let us see what the place really is, which so many men have projects for taking, and what may be the chances of its fall by an attack from the ordinary engines and appliances of war.
At the extremity of the Gulf of Finland, where it narrows and rounds off to a termination, and not far from the spot where it receives the waters of the Neva, is an island, lying northwest and south-east, low, flat, narrow, and pointed-shaped somewhat like the tongue of an ox. At the south-east end it approaches more nearly to the mainland, forming a harbour, and thus, though poor and insignificant in itself, it becomes important from the faet of its offering to ambition a position adapted for the preparation of a great scheme, the attainment of a great purpose.
When Peter the Great resolved to create a capital amid the marshes of the Neva, and thereby declare himself a northern state, his genius fixed on this island as a fitting site for the nursery of a young, and the stronghold of a matured, naval power. There was room enough on it for his garrisons, dockyards, and arsenals; the harbour was spacious enough for his ships; the place was difficult of access, and capable of defence-was near his new city, under his very eye. "Twas all he wanted; and here, forthwith, was planted the germ of a navy, which grew with the growth, and strengthened with the strength, of the nation itself. What he began, his successors continued; and, as the development of aggression increased the