St. Petersburg: Typ. of the Naval Ministry, 1861. Item #200
, 100 pp. Octavo. Original grey publisher’s printed wrappers with a decorative ornamental border on the front cover. Ink marking on the title page, ink numbers on verso of the title page and p. 17, wrappers slightly rubbed and soiled, minor foxing of the text, but overall a very good copy of this rare book in its original condition.
First and only edition. Very rare (no paper copies found in Worldcat).
Anonymous essay written by the famous Russian naval officer and circumnavigator Vasily Golovnin shortly after he was appointed the general quartermaster (intendant) – the highest position on the administration of wharfs, ships, and supplies provision in the Russian fleet (in 1823). Written in the name of a midshipman Morekhodov (a pseudonym which literally means ‘‘the Navigator’’) the essay describes ‘‘the state which our fleet is in now’’. The author goes on about miserable condition of Russian naval ships, lack of efficiency, abuse of power and bribery system in the Russian fleet, blaming previous naval ministers Count Kushelev, Admiral Mordvinov, admiral Chichagov,marquis de Traversay, and Admiral von Möller. The book was first published after the manuscript was discovered in Golovnin’s papers thirty years after his death.
The narration illustrated with numerous examples consists of:
Chapter I. About the causes of the decline and present unfortunate state of the Russian fleet.
The causes named by Golovnin are: 1) Confused and mixed up structure of all parts, comprising the chief administration of the navy; 2) Poor and humiliating pay to the Admiralty officials and workers; 3) Dissipated condition in the capital of the main Admiralty wharfs, storages and other establishments; 4) Bad administration of the ports, carelessness in looking after ships, not proper education of the fleet crews and workers; 5) Inattention, contempt, injustice and even oppression always and in all cases shown to the navy and people in its service.
Chapter II. Means and ways for Russia to keep her fleet in the possibly best condition.
Chapter III and last. About the benefits and necessity for Russia to have considerable naval forces. Golovnin notes: ‘‘just remember that Russia possesses many coastal areas in the White, Baltic and Black Seas, not even talking about the Eastern Ocean’’.
The second part of the book is dedicated to the Naval Cadet Corps in Saint Petersburg which Golovnin was a deputy Director since 1821. Titled ‘‘About the Naval Cadet Corps (written in 1824)’’, the essay contains: ‘About some shortcomings in different parts of administration of the Naval Cadet Corps’ (in twenty paragraphs); Instruction to the company commanders; Instruction to the Captain on duty in the Corps; Instruction to the Inspector; Instruction to the Chief of the police; General Instruction; Instruction to the Captain.
Vasily Golovnin was a Russian navigator, vice-admiral, a member of Russian Academy of Sciences (1818). Golovnin made two circumnavigations on sloop Diana in 1807-09 and sloop Kamchatka in 1817-19. Later he worked as one of the directors of the Russian fleet and died from cholera at the age of only 55 years.
‘‘V.M. Golovnin, one of the outstanding Russian naval officers of the nineteenth century, made several voyages to the North Pacific and to the northwest coast of America. He has left valuable accounts of his voyages and of the investigation of the state of the Russian colonies in America, which he conducted by order of the emperor in 1818’’ (Lada-Mocarski, #82).