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1871, Payn, J. , The Cruise of the Anti-Torpedo 


James Payn (1871) The Cruise of the Anti-Torpedo, Chambers Journal

[Being an account of the voyage of the last ship left to England after its conquest by Bismark & Co. (Limited) ; what she did, and what she omitted to do; and how she finally succeeded single-handed (as a pawn regains a queen), in restoring the fallen fortunes of our beloved country.]

One of the many post-Battle of Dorking stories.



‘Go on ahead!’ cried our gallant captain.

‘Go on ahead !’ reiterated the call-boy in his shrill treble; and that noble monument of ship-building skill, the Bella Donna, sped swiftly seawards, leaving Old England behind her, perhaps for ever.

But was it the call-boy? It may be as well to state at once, that though holding an official position on board the vessel in question, I knew nothing of nautical affairs. Perhaps it was the cabin-boy. The reader must excuse all technical errors in this narration. My position was peculiar, if not unparalleled. A fortnight had elapsed since England’s comb had been cut at Dorking, and my beloved country was lying beneath the iron heel of its German conqueror. Our entire fleet had been destroyed (as everybody knows) by torpedoes, with the exception of the vessel on whose books I had the honour to be enrolled as supernumerary mate.