|The Russian royal yacht, the Standardt, dressed|
This piece conveys something of the mood of the occasion described, while being both factual, selective and semi-poetic. This is history as, in my opinion, it should be written for an audeince if people.
The essay is quite long, but I have chosen the bits giving the views of this Russian – Alexander Spiridonovich, who was on the Tsar’s yacht, Standardt – of the British fleet and their inspection of it. The second to last paragraph is key to the "plot", but don’t read that before you have read the rest.
Whatever else it may be, it is enjoyable to read and, as you correctly pointed out, a STORY – but it also conveys something which pure factual, analytical history does not – the SPIRIT of the occasion, the human and emotional side of it.
We had before us the entire North squadron of the English fleet. Three lines of huge combat ships and many lines of smaller ships were arranged in parallel in the harbour of Spithead and were lost out toward the direction of Cowes. One hundred Fifty-three of them, without counting the destroyers and the smaller ships, commanded by 28 admirals, who were receiving their crowned admiral, the Emperor of Russia.