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some authorities indicated, and some extracts
made, which will, as is hoped, help to lighten the
task of the many Englishmen who are
asking themselves in what Maritime Warfare con
sists; whether by the Declaration of Paris of
1856 it has not been rendered an illusion; and
whether that Declaration, so long as it remains
unrepudiated, does not fatally impair the strength in war and consequently diminish the dignity and security in peace of all maritime nations,
and especially of this nation of Great Britain.
T. G. B.
WAR consists in the lawful use of force by one nation against another. That it should ever be necessary to use force either between individuals or between nations is lamentable : that it is sometimes necessary cannot be gainsaid. Every nation as well as every individual not only possesses the right, but is under the duty of resisting violence by force; otherwise violence must become the only law of the world. And when we find as we do, nations which do not merely practice violence, but openly defend it and avow that nothing short of force shall restrain them from it, it especially behoves us to look to the means we possess of resisting that violence, when it is, as in the course of time it may be, directed against ourselves.
That the people, or at any rate, that the Government of Great Britain have shown themselves desirous to avoid war of any kind, except it be in the shape of facile expeditions against weak and barbarous tribes, is certain ; but what is equally certain is, that the desire to avoid war cannot alone be sufficient to secure its avoidance. The honour of the Empire may be thought an inadequate reason for putting its interests to the hazard of an armed conflict with any European State ; but if it once be felt that its interests themselves are gravely concerned, then it neither would nor could be held possible to sacrifice them without a struggle.
It seems indeed as though no question short of that of the absolute existence of the British Empire would cause the British people, or induce any British Government to embark in a European war. And this it is which makes it a matter of such vital necessity that nothing should be omitted to place the country in a position, when the time comes, to exert the whole of its strength.
For, if it be that we shall never fight again with any Great Power unless for our very existence, we are already foredoomed to destruction unless when that conjuncture arises, we are found in a position to put forth all those fighting powers which Nature has placed within our reach.
With those who believe, or who, because they desire it, affect to believe, that England will never again be driven to draw sword in a great struggle, it were needless to argue. History from the earliest to the latest times teaches us that, among States as among individuals, there are those which propose to themselves the removal of their neighbour's landmarks and the acquisition of their neighbour's property by methods of fraud or of violence. Such are only in the last resort to be constrained and resisted by force, and it were madness to suppose that, now for the first time in the history of the world, all necessity has finally and for ever disappeared for so constraining and resisting them.
It is sufficient indeed to say that war has not yet been reduced to an impossibility in order to show that its possibility cannot be disregarded. And if it be that Great Britain will not again go to war unless it be for existence, then is it our duty now more than ever to omit nothing that can enable us to defend that existence by war, if ever we are driven to it. The British Empire is the most splendid prey in the world, and if it be found without defence the most tempting ; by so much the more therefore does it behove us to ascertain what arms Nature has placed in our hands for defending it, and to be sure that we keep those arms in an effective state against the evil day.
We who live in Islands have not to choose what or where our defences shall be. Nature herself which has brought to our doors the waters that wrap the earth, has taught us plainly that by the sea alone shall an enemy reach us or we him. She has taught us that the sea is the gate and the rampart of our house, and the waters our battlefield, from which none can debar us, and which while we hold them, as we may, are our sure barrier against the world. If there be methods of
making war at sea so effectual that they can reach and paralyze the very heart of land-locked nations remotely seated in continents; if there be means of opposing sailors to soldiers and fleets to armies so powerful that to control the seas is to coerce the land; then indeed the British Empire may be secured against all danger from without. If not; if it be that, from any cause whatever, we are found impuissant at sea, and unable by acting there to produce any impression, then the days of the British Empire are numbered. The invasion of England itself is not impossible; it is not even difficult; we have not and never can have an army any way comparable in point of numbers to that which any first-class Power could bring against us. Conscription and universal military service never should be and never can be established in England, unless it be by an alien invader after and as a result of the conquest and extinction of the country, as an independent state—when indeed these islands would become as fine a recruiting ground as Germany has found Poland to be, and Russia the Cossack territory. But even if it were established by ourselves for ourselves, it would not materially mend matters. It has been said, “the English infantry is the best in the world, luckily there is not much of it,” and it is indeed because there is not much of it that it is the best, because it does not forcibly enrol those who are fitted only for peaceful avocations, and