Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

struction is given in signals. At certain times the corvette is under steam, and the students are then given practical instruction in the working of the engines, two being stationed at a time in the engine-room, and two at the fires. Seamanship instruction of a practical character, which does not involve getting a ship under way, is given on those afternoons when the regular exercise is put off by bad weather.

The system of instruction on board the Borda is one which has many advantages in the hands of able instructors, while with an inefficient staff it would inevitably go to pieces. In it, the instructor and the instructor's teaching are everything; the text-book nothing. As far as he has occasion to use them, the instructor makes his own text-books. The system is one that affords at the same time an excellent check and a powerful stimulus to the teacher. It is practically his class-room work that is published in the lithographed sheets, and the whole details of his teaching are therefore laid open to inspection. If he is incompetent he cannot conceal it, and if he devises new and original methods, if his studies are carried into the most recent and most advanced stages of scientific and professional progress, he gets full credit for it. The out. side examiners are placed in a position to inspect not only results, but methods, and, if either are defective, to ascertain the most effectual remedy.

5.-DISCIPLINE - MODE OF LIFE-ROUTINE. The discipline of the Borda is severe, even for a ship in commission. The supervision is so close and constant that there is very little opportunity of committing grave offenses without immediate discovery; and the list of punishments is calculated to preclude their repetition. The list is as follows :

1. Reprimand (1) pronounced by an officer or professor; (2) by the second in command or executive officer.

2. Punishment squad, one hour a day, for three days at most.
3. Coventry (la police), not more than ten days.
4. Prison, not more than ten days.
5. Dark cell (cachot), not more than five days.
6. Suspension.
7. Expulsion.

Each offense, or rather each punishment, as representing an offense, has an influence on the conduct-mark. This mark is on a scale of 20. Demerits (points de punition) are given as a record of conduct, and the maximum number allowed in a term is 200. An absence of demerits gives a conduct-mark of 20, while the maximum gives a mark of zero. A student that receives the latter as his term-mark in conduct, is reported to the minister for dismissal. The number of demerits attached to each offense is fixed by a scale, according to the character of the punishment. Thus, every reprimand gives from one to two demerits; the squad gives two demerits, and one in addition for each day of punishment; coventry gives five demerits, and one for each day, and so upwards. Delinquents whose offenses cannot be suitably punished by the captain are sent to the guard-ship, where the Préfet disposes of them, either by a severer punishment, or by a report to the Minister of Marine, recommending their dismissal.

The character of the punishments is somewhat peculiar. Delinquents placed in the punishment squad are posted in line with a short interval between each man, and required to keep the position of the soldier without arms for one hour. If the number is large, they may be drilled for an hour. Coventry consists in isolating an offender from his companions and from everyone else during the hours of study, recreation, and meals. He attends lectures and practical exercises. He has his meals from the mess-table of the crew; and his allowance of wine is weakened with water. Delinquents undergoing imprisonment are allowed to attend the lectures and interrogations in scientific subjects only, but they are deprived of these also, if it is found expedient, as sometimes happens, to confine them on board one of the corvettes instead of the Borda, for the sake of greater isolation. When the fifth punish ment is ordered, that of confinement in the cachot, the delinquent is taken out of his dark cell for one hour only in the twenty-four. This hour is employed in solitary exercise aloft (erercice de gymnastique dans le gréement). In both the prison and the cachot, delinquents are allowed a blanket and their canvas blouse and trousers, but they sleep on the floor. Their meals are served from the crew's mess; but in the cachot they are reduced on the first, third, and fifth days of confinement to soup, bread, and water. Naturally, with such punishments, there is little difficulty in maintaining discipline on board the Borda.

Deprivation of liberty to go a shore does not exist as a separate punishment for offenses; but the privilege is taken away in consequence of very low marks, or of any of the five school punishments, incurred during the previous fortnight. A whole class may be occasionally deprived of liberty for a general infraction of the regulations.

Lieutenants and professors can only pronounce reprimands; all the other punishments, except the dark cell and removal from the school, may be inflicted by the commander, but the duration of the punishment is always fixed by the captain Sectional inspections are conducted daily by the chiefs of sections, and a general inspection is held on Thursday by the commander and on Sunday by the captain ; but informal inspections of all parts of the ship occupied by students, including also their chests, lockers, &c., are made at any time by the adjudants. Offenses are reported by any officer, from the commander down to the adjudants and instructing petty officers, under whose notice they come.

The students are not allowed to have any articles in their possession other than those authorized in the prescribed outfit, and they can keep nothing under lock and key. Any books, watches, rings, or other un

authorized articles that they bring with them when they first join the school are taken away, and only restored at their departure. They are forbidden to obtain or receive anything from outside, even from their friends, but they may procure tobacco and such other small matters as they need at a little shop (cantine) on board. Novels and newspapers are especially prohibited, and the penalty for having a novel in possession is confinement in prison.

Formerly, there was a relation of authority and responsibility between the older and younger students, but this exists no longer. No monitorial authority of any kind is exercised, and positions of command in drills are purely temporary and cease when the drill is over. Orders are received from the chiefs of sections (lieutenants), and complaints in each section are made to them at inspection. If the complaint does not meet, with attention, the matter can be laid before the commander or captain, at Thursday or Sunday inspection.

The two classes go ashore on alternate Sundays once a month, the second class on the first Sunday in the month and the first class on the second. On these days the class not on liberty has practice for six hours, in working ship on board the corvette, and on the other Sundays in the month the two classes are exercised either together or separately, using both the small vessels. Dinner takes place on board the corvette to, sare time. The students on liberty go ashore in charge of a lieutenant, who remains on duty during the liberty hours at an office provided for him at the Etablissement des Pupilles. He has, during this time, a general oversight of the students on shore, and he brings them off to the ship. The hours of liberty are from 11 a. m. till sunset, or till 7 p. m., when sunset is later.

No students are allowed to go on shore, even on liberty days, unless the privilege is asked for them by their correspondant. This person is a resident of Brest, selected by the parent or guardian of the student to act as his agent at Brest and to look, in a general way, after his inters ests. No officer of the school or contractor furnishing supplies to the school can be a correspondent. Correspondents cannot visit students in their charge on board the ship; indeed, this privilege is not accorded to any one; but a half hour, after the infantry drill on Thursday, is de voted to interviews, which take place on the drill.ground or in the build, ing adjoining. In exceptional cases students may go ashore to visit their parents when the latter are temporarily at Brest, but this privilege is only granted on Sunday, and never, except in grave and peculiar circum. stances, to pupils who reside in the neighborhood.

Each student receives on his arrival a number, which he retains throughout the course and by which he is known. It is placed on all his clothes, his desk, his books, and his hammock.

According to the table of studies already given, it has been seen that C24 hours a week are given to special exercises and 10 to general study, The remaining 954 hours which go to make up the total of the week are roughly divided as follows:

Hours.

57 16

[ocr errors]

3 2 8

Sleep
Recreation
Meals....
Physical exercise..
Inspections
Miscellaneous (including dressing, prayers, and religious service)...
Total ......

954 The students rise at five o'clock every day in the year. Three-quarters of an hour are occupied with dressing, prayers, and stowing hammocks; after which, the early morning study takes place for an hour and a quarter on five days in the week, varied on Thursday and Sunday by exercises in practical navigation. The study is followed by half an hour of exercise, either gymnastics or fencing. All this is done before breakfast. The routine of lectures, study, and exercises in the forenoon and afternoon has already been given. The aggregate number of hours of recreation during the week, 16, seems sufficiently large, but the programme is so arranged as to cut up the time into little scraps or recesses, making it hardly available for solid amusement. Thus there is a recess of fifteen minutes after breakfast, from 7.45 to 8; of 30 minutes, from 9.30 to 10, between the cours and study; of 30 minutes after dinner, from 12.30 to 1; of 15 minutes in the period of afternoon exercise, from 2.45 to 3; from 15 to 30 minutes after afternoon luncheon, between 4.30 and 5; and of 15 minutes between the evening cours and study, from 6 to 6.15. After supper there are no studies; recreation lasts from 8 to 8.45, followed by prayers and turning in at 9.

On Thursday and Sunday the programme is modified in order to give six hours in the afternoon on board the corvette; while the whole of Thursday morning is taken up with infantry drill on shore, and of Sun. day morning with inspection and mass. As both these days are harder working days than the others, the hour for turning in is thirty minutes earlier.

There are four meals a day on board the Borda, as follows: Breakfast, 7.30 a. m.; dinner, 12 m.; afternoon luncheon, 4.15 p. m.; supper 7.45 p. m. The table is gooil, though exceedingly simple. The breakfast consists, after the French fashion, simply of coffee and bread and butter, while the afternoon luncheon (goûter) is of bread alone. Dinner is composed of soup, two dishes (plats)-one of meat, the other of vegetablesand dessert; and supper of meat, pudding or vegetables, and cake or sweetmeats. Half a pint of wine is allowed at dinner and at supper. On Friday the dishes of meat are replaced by fish. The regulation requires that the bill of fare shall be so arranged as to provide for the twelve meals per week, of which meat forms a part, four of boiled beef, two of roast beef, three of mutton, two of veal, and one of poultry.*

The bill of fare for one day is given in the Appendix, note K.

Students are required to take a bath (grand bain or bain complet) once a month, and to take a foot-bath once a week. This somewhat infrequent ablution is supplemented in summer by sea-baths. The half hour devoted to the regular baths is that assigned in the programme to gymnastic exercise, just before breakfast. The uniform of élèves is the usual blue jacket and trousers; but it is not much worn on board ship, the customary dress being the white canvas blouse and overalls. This is worn even at studies and lectures. Blue is worn at mass and at in. spections and on shore. When on liberty ashore students are required to wear a sword.

There is sick-call every morning and evening on board. In case of light illness students are placed in the sick-bay. Severer cases are sent to the hospital on shore, where a ward is specially reserved for the school. In the latter case the correspondent is immediately notified.

Religious service consists of prayers morning and evening, and mass on Sunday morning. The latter lasts half an hour, and attendance is required of all except the Protestants. The number of these is very small, there being five in 1878. They are allowed to have such service as they see fit by themselves in the sick-bay. An hour is set apart on two evenings in the week, during which the students who feel so disposed may visit the chaplain.

The general impression obtained by an examination of the Borda system is that it is one of extreme severity and repression. Not that the application of the system or the method of administration is harsh. On the contrary, the relations of the governing authorities and the students seem to be of the most amiable and cordial character. A spirit of subordination and a general desire to perform well the allotted tasks and duties is said to pervade the school; and though the punishments are severe they are infrequent. The essential features of the system are the close and constant supervision maintained over the pupils, and the prevention of violations of discipline, by the imposition of the heaviest pen alties. Such offences as hazing or going ashore without leave are impossible. The constant watch, the isolation of the ship, and the absolute anthority of the Préfet Maritime in and about the port effectually prevent any co-operation of outside persons in an attempt to go ashore without leave. The penalty for disobeying the orders of a sentry is the cachot, a penalty which no one who has once undergone it would care to run the risk of repeating. The features of the system that make the discipline so perfect, from a military point of view, are those which tell most severely on the students. In considering its effects upon the latter, however, considerable allowance must be made for peculiarities of national character and modes of thought. Certainly the colorless life of the Borda, its close confinement, its constant supervision, and the absence of all that gives charm or variety to existence would be intolerable to an American or English boy of the age of the French élèves.

« AnteriorContinuar »