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action, re-establishing our reputation for military spirit, and making the temporary loss of our fleet a very different matter from what it would have been some years ago. Ten years have hardly elapsed since we scarcely had the name of an army at home—no militia and no volunteer force. Our sole defence was a fleet which previous and subsequent experience has shown to be least available when most wanted. Even that fleet, moreover, we have learned, upon official authority in 1859, had no longer any practical superiority over the French fleet. A well-known Treasury minute, dated in December of the previous year, revealed the unpleasant fact, that while we were building ships of an obsolete class, our rivals had constructed an efficient fleet. Other mistakes of the same kind had weakened public confidence in the administration of naval affairs, and, in the absence of a sufficient land force, we had experienced what Mr. Cobden has designated as “The Three Panics.' But happily in England we do not look to Government alone for help. A most singular instance of popular action supplying the supposed deficiencies of a public department followed our last alarm-let us hope our very last- and created a volunteer army in the midst of peace. That army was the truest expression of popular feeling in England, and was rightly appreciated in Europe. It had been alleged that, in becoming manufacturers, we had lost all military spirit as a nation; but the volunteer movement contradicted the theory. Thenceforward the invasion of England ceased to be a favourite topic abroad, for the question was no longer whether our fleet could be overmatched or evaded, but whether a people who had not lost all the military virtues would be likely to fall an easy prey even if invaded.
That this revival of military spirit in England made some difference in the feelings with which we heard the doom of our wooden walls in 1861 cannot be doubted. Our outer defences had been effectually breached by M. Dupuy de Lôme when he built a French iron-cased frigate that would have made short work of our finest three-deckers; but the breach served to show a gallant array within; and there certainly was no panic this time, though the facts were alarming and instructive enough. A second time within a few years French genius had made our whole fleet obsolete, and, for the purposes of European warfare, useless : but this time we had a competent inner intrenchment, and could proceed more leisurely to repair the breach.
The task before us was a most serious one: nothing less than to build a new fleet upon entirely new principles, and to surpass if possible the models of a great master in the art of naval construction. We had this time to build from the foundation; and, in fairness to the Admiralty, it must be remembered that it was not always their part to strike out new systems. To use a shop-keeping illustration very much to the point, we were like a tradesman already provided with a large assortment of 'goods, but not of the newest patterns.' It was not our business to introduce new fashions which would make our stock on band unsaleable. Perhaps, indeed, we were slow in moving, and did not always move in the right direction when we did move; but this time, as has been said, the ground was clear before us: let us see how we have acquitted ourselves in a fair race.
From the moment that experience proved the possibility of casing sea-going or cruising ships with iron-plates capable of resisting such artillery as was then known, the doom of our wooden bulwarks was pronounced. It was clearly as necessary to meet iron with iron as it would have been to discard bows and arrows in favour of modern artillery had we not already done so. France had previously had the honour of proving the efficacy of armour-cased floating batteries at Kinburn, in 1855 (our own, built at the French emperor's suggestion, had arrived too late). In 1858 the first real iron-clad ship of war was laid down in the same country, and designed by the same eminent architect who had produced the Napoleon,' the first really successful screw line-of-battle ship. The new iron-clad, which even exceeded the hopes entertained of her, was appropriately named * La Gloire ;' and thus to M. Dupuy de Lôme belonged the honour of having twice within ten years devised the means of totally changing the nature and conditions of naval war. The Gloire' was launched in 1859, and France then possessed a ship, as she had in 1852, which had no equal afloat. As this first attempt produced an admirable model which it only remained to copy, thirteen more iron-clads were ordered on the same lines, to maintain the start which had been so fairly gained ; and although we followed in the wake, the balance of strength was against us in 1861: of course we speak of iron-clads alone. It is to this date we would have the reader turn, bearing in mind that, with the advantage already gained by France, it was a matter of the first necessity for England to make up lee-way, and acquire an equality in actual strength before venturing too much upon purely experimental constructions. Whether we have succeeded in redressing the balance in all respects, as we certainly have in numbers, must be matter of opinion. The correct data for forming such opinion we are able to supply; and leaving the reader to draw his own conclusions as to our ironclad fleet, we must now present him with those of M. Xavier
Raymond on naval matters in general, and the relative strength of England and France as maritime Powers.
There are probably very few French writers who could have reviewed the history of the French and English navies since 1815 in the same fair and candid spirit as M. Raymond has done. He feels (and warmly too) as a Frenchman, but thinks as an Englishman, or at least argues upon principles more generally accepted among ourselves than among our neighbours. M. Raymond was attached by M. Guizot to the mission of M. de Lagrénée to China, some twenty years ago, and in the course of that and other voyages he acquired a great love of the sea, and a deep interest in naval affairs. He also visited India, and there conceived a strong and lasting regard for England, and a high respect for her national power. When the French press still enjoyed freedom of discussion, M. Raymond was distinguished as a writer in its most powerful organ; and the work now before us was published in part last year, in a series of papers which appeared in our highly valued contemporary, the • Revue • des Deux Mondes.' We gather from it that, though not a seaman, he has for many years lived much with naval men, and has studied for the last twenty-five years what may be called the Naval Question. So far as a strong interest in his subject, industry, candour, and rare truthfulness, can qualify him, M. Raymond may be considered to have the necessary qualities for the task he has set himself. When it was in his power to ascertain the facts upon which he reasons, he did so conscientiously; and when he failed to satisfy himself, he tells us so honestly. On the one hand, his pride in the French navy, and his regard for the French sailor, make him a good champion of maritime France; on the other hand, his sympathy with liberty, with representative government, free trade, and commercial pursuits, make him just towards England. While handling a delicate subject--especially delicate for Frenchmen -he is never betrayed into a sneer or illiberal censure. Whatever would be praiseworthy in France, M. Raymond finds praiseworthy in England; and he can praise without such a qualifying addition as often amounts to covert censure. would especially recommend to notice the just and reasonable view of England's maritime preponderance taken by M. Raymond. He accepts that preponderance as an existing fact, which it is England's interest and duty to herself to perpetuate, but he denies that such preponderance is any part of European law or obligatory on other Powers; in other words, M. Raymond thinks it a fact to be quietly maintained in deeds but not in words. The distinction is a real and
practical one, which meets us in everyday life. We cheerfully concede the precedence which social usages have given to our more fortunate neighbour, but we don't expect him to parade that precedence in an offensive manner, nor to demand our formal recognition of it. Those who value a good understanding with France may learn something from M. Raymond's remarks upon our Parliamentary discussions on this question. He contends that France is blamed there for the inevitable results of her more efficient naval administration, and that this is the more unreasonable on our part, inasmuch as France obtains these results at a less cost than our own naval expenditure. It is as a partisan of the English alliance that M. Raymond dwells upon the danger to which it is exposed by what he considers the short: sightedness and inefficiency of our Admiralty system. Defending himself against those amongst his own countrymen who might say that if we are satisfied with a barren and unproductive system, it is our own business, he adds :
* The constant failures of the English Admiralty may often cause regrets, because in England they tend indirectly to promote that distrust of us which mars a good understanding, while in France they are the sources of dangerous mistakes. It is not in human nature to admit a fault willingly; the Admiralty, therefore, when it meets with some fresh mishap, when it finds itself palpably distanced by some invention which we have carried into practice, adopts a method of excusing itself which, although answering the purpose, is not calculated to promote mutual good-will . . . Instead of honestly confessing its mistakes, it exclaims against French ambition, accuses us of plotting, and of plans of invasion which nothing bears out; it stirs up the public feeling against us, and at the same time obtains some hundred million of francs (from Parliament) to repair past errors Would it not be better for ourselves that the Admiralty should never be placed in a position so false as well as dangerous ?' (Pp. 414-5.)
On the other hand, when we see the English Admiralty struggling with one of those mischances with which it periodically embarrasses itself, we see a host of people in France also (honest people enough, but rather ill-informed), whose notion of the highest patriotism consists in slandering a neighbour and possible adversary: we see them hasten to draw from circumstances which they cannot appreciate, conclusions that are quite erroneous. Judging other countries by what they see at home, they take the Admiralty for the true representative of England's naval power; they believe her to be decrepit and weak, and indulge in the most extravagant fancies. The truth is, however, that England is still the greatest naval Power in the world, that it is absurd to measure that power by the acts and deeds of the Admiralty, seeing that the Admiralty, as it now stands, is but a detail, a fraction of the budget, a first stake in the game; it is but the staff or the advance of a force, that in case of a serious struggle would draw in
exhaustible resources--if anything be inexhaustible in this worldfrom the nation itself. In France the naval administration represents by far the largest share of that strength which entitles us to be called a naval Power.' (P. 416.)
The objects aimed at by M. Raymond, as we gather from his preface, are to refute the claims of England to limit the naval forces of other Powers; to trace the causes of the ill-will which he thinks that we entertain towards the French navy; to support the influence and prestige of France by showing the steady progress of her navy since 1815; to warn his countrymen against the danger of underrating their rivals; and, lastly, to point out a great error in the naval system of France.
Though that part which relates to the assumed claims of England is addressed especially to this country, and occupies a large portion of the book, we need not follow M. Raymond through his argument. We readily concede that England can have no right to dictate to France what naval force she shall create or maintain. But, in fact, no one does assume such a right. The only reason why there may apparently be such a pretension on our part is, that the discussion of a delicate topic is transferred from the cabinet and the sphere of diplomacy, to the outspoken debates of Parliament. Here and there (but very rarely) an independent member may have expressed himself rashly upon this subject, and so may also some writers in the press. It is clearly not a topic which can be judiciously or usefully treated in such discussions, and they are a bad result of the distrust which our naval administration has inspired. Still it does not follow that two friendly Governments may not come to an amicable understanding as to the relative strength of their navies. Some approach has already been made in principle by the appointment of naval attachés to the respective embassies of England and France. As these officers, by keeping their Governments well informed of the naval movements on each side of the Channel, will leave no room for such suspicions or surprises, as we have experienced of late years. If we further admit that, in her past exertions to improve her navy, France has given us no just cause of complaint, there will remain little ground of difference with M. Raymond upon the question of armaments.
Before entering upon the great question of iron-clads (we owe our American cousins thanks for the word), it may be well to follow M. Raymond in his retrospect of naval affairs since 1815: the review is not so gratifying to our national pride as it is to that of our neighbours, but it may be profitable. From 1815 M. Raymond dates that revival of French