Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

be called on to fight. It would without giving him any coal to inure them to every kind of drive his ships. They ordered him climate and weather. Further, it up the Dardanelles, and then sent would display the flag all over a despatch to meet him half-way the world, and do away with one and counter-order him down again. excuse for keeping some of our “I am sick of it,” he writes most best men in obsolete tubs on dis- naturally, "and only look forward tant stations, when the first days to returning to Malta.” of war would hand them over help It will probably surprise British less to the first modern enemy they readers to learn that their foremight encounter.

most admiral, in command of their From the Flying Squadron greatest fleet, at a time of urgent Hornby went to command in the crisis, is shifted to and fro like a Channel, and thence to the Medi- chess-man by the superior wisdom terranean. How much his blended of Whitehall. It probably did not discretion and firmness did to keep surprise Hornby, for he had been Russia out of Constantinople and a Lord of the Admiralty himself. Britain out of war, readers of Mrs This was in 1875 and 1876, when Egerton's book may see for them- he was Second Sea Lord, under selves. But the dominant impres- Ward Hunt. His first task was sion of this chapter is not an to determine how twenty-three agreeable one. To Hornby more ironclads could be kept in comthan to any one Englishman it mission, with one for every four fell at this crisis to steer the of them in reserve or building, country between war and dis- when at the end of three years honour. Yet the Government at there would only be twenty-four home appears to have kept him ironclads altogether. He asked systematically ignorant of its in- two millions and a half to bring tentions. It may be, of course, the fleet up to its proper strength, that it was ignorant of them itself. and did not get it. What wonder Yet it is difficult not to blush that he began his Mediterranean in reading the correspondence be- journal with the words, "I left the tween the Admiral and the First Admiralty with less regret and Lord. “ The further," writes more pleasure than any work with Hornby to the late W. H. Smith, which I have been so long con“I can be informed of your views, nected.” Here are some of the consistently with State secrets, the delights in the life of a naval more I believe I should be able to lord :prepare

to
carry

them out." They appear to have consistently ignored “As if for the purpose of preventhis representations as to the forti- ing him from turning his attention to fication of the lines of Bulair, any of the important subjects of the above Gallipoli. It might have whether a man recommended for a

day, he has to direct such minutiæ as been indiscreet to take his advice; truss shall be allowed one. but it was surely a worse indis- With a hundred such ridiculous occucretion to keep him in the dark pations his time is engrossed, and he as to the actual policy of the

has to scramble through important country-to order him to keep the papers without sufficient time to conStraits open, while neglecting the

sider them, and to leave most reports only means by which it was possible great fault is want of unity of plan.

and experiments unread. The second to keep them open. They sudden

Of course there is no feeling ly ordered him off from Malta of connection between the permanent

officials and the service, and there- might have vouchsafed them on fore .. no care how the work the moment. And the Admiralty succeeds afloat. The office is looked would have been as utterly at a on as a department of the Civil Ser

loss as to the expedient organisavice. . . . It is not to be wondered at that a naval man, who comes there to

tion of their own resources as they work for the benefit of that service in would have been ignorant of the which he takes pride, should be dis- enemy's. Admiral Fitzgerald may appointed and disgusted to find him

well say that if Sir George Tryon self in company with those who have had never done anything in his great powers of obstruction, and no desire to advance the service.”

life but give the impetus to the

institution of this Department, Of course the Admiralty -- like he would by this alone have the Government of Turkey — is sufficiently merited the nation's always reforming, and doubtless gratitude. this sketch of its workings is long But, as he significantly says, since obsolete. It does not, how “Sir George Tryon was always ever, appear to have been alto preparing for war." So far as gether out of date six years later, actual fighting goes, he saw little when Tryon was Permanent Secre more of it than did Admiral tary. At that time no lord ever

Hornby.

After the Crimea he saw the letter written from his

was transport officer at Annesley minute, and a Secretary who Bay—“the hottest place on earth” knew something about the Navy-during the Abyssinian War; and was found very useful in correct- in 1881 he represented British ining the miscellaneous blunders terests through the French bomwhich arise from the system. In bardment of Sfax and the subsehis tenure of the office, as at all quent Commission. His colleague other times, Tryon proved himself, at Annesley Bay was Lord Roberts, what Admiral Fitzgerald calls him, and it was stated that these two a type of the true reformers of were the hardest worked men in the Navy. The impulse to reform the expedition. Both services demay, and often has, come from manded tact beyond the common without; but the execution of it endowment. Yet, masterful as must be left to the man who un- he was reputed to be, Tryon won derstands the business. While at nothing but praise and gratitude the Admiralty Tryon laid the from everybody concerned in both foundations of the Intelligence affairs. Perhaps it was rather Department. As Admiral Fitz- because of his masterfulness than gerald well says, this is like a good in spite of it; and in days when many other modern institutions : Britain has almost forgotten the

we wonder how on earth we ever diplomatic value of this quality, it got on without them.” It seems is worth while to point back to incredible that fifteen years ago the eulogies which Tryon won it was nobody's business to gather from the French in the Sfax affair. the information necessary for the After this Tryon saw no more of rational prosecution of war. If warfare. But after this, and even we had had to fight in those days, before, there was no intermission our officers would have been ex in his life's task of "preparing for pected to find out the strength and war.” Wherever he went he was nature of the enemy's force afloat always picking up information, and his defences ashore, by any making or suggesting reforms in sudden inspiration which Heaven discipline and organisation, trying

experiments, exercising his men, to deal in several chapters of the
instructing his officers and himself. highest interest and instructive-
It would hardly be possible to find ness. One of these — upon the
a life more single-heartedly devoted Naval Manæuvres in which he
to one great purpose. "He was not played so brilliant a part—we are
one of those," says his biographer, able to consider side by side with
“who preach the pusillanimous and a very luminous criticism from the
delusive doctrine that the greatest last book of our five, “The Navy
of all British interests is peace. and the Nation. The maneuvres
He knew full well, and he acted of 1888 and 1889 are especially
on the knowledge, that the greatest worthy of a brief account, since they
of all British interests is the de- may be said to sum up almost in
fence of the British empire, and themselves the chief strategic
the maintenance of its honour and principles which should govern the
integrity.” With this knowledge defence of these islands. In 1888
he was yet alive, as his letters Tryon represented the enemy. He
show, to the value of preparation was blockaded in Bantry Bay, and
as a deterrent against attack. He his second-in-command in Lough
realised also with a clearness very Swilly. The blockading squadrons
far from common in his day that were in each case superior in force
the one and only barrier between to the blockaded, though Tryon's
the empire and ruin was its Navy. two squadrons united were superior
Fortune called him, in the war- to either blockader singly. The
scare of 1885, to make suggestions result was held to demonstrate the
for local defence to the Australian impossibility of a close blockade
colonies, but he never gave way to under modern conditions. In these
the pernicious fallacy that forts days of steam a blockaded enemy
can take the place of ships in de- might attempt to break out at any
fending a coast. On the contrary, moment, fair wind or not, and it is
he advised the colonies to restrain significant that in the case of these
their fortifying zeal within reason manæuvres the blockaders, on their
able bounds. What was needed own showing, were already ex-
was a mobile defence on land, hausted almost to the point of
where a body of resolute men could raising the blockade before the
defeat any likely landing party, very first day allowed by the Ad-
and a mobile defence at sea. How miralty for an attempt to break
great a part he played in the for- through. When that day came,
mation of the special Australian Tryon easily broke the blockade
squadron Admiral Fitzgerald with his fastest ships under cover
plainly shows. Here again the of a brilliant diversion; his coad-
work was trying, and called for jutor did the same, and a division
almost endless tact. That he suc- from each squadron united in a
ceeded in reconciling the widely raid upon the unprotected coasts
divergent views of the various col- of Scotland and England. Tryon’s
onies, and bringing the squadron opponent fell back, to coal and
into an accomplished fact, is one to guard the mouth of the Thames ;
more contradiction of the new no doubt, too, the necessity of rest
theory that a strong man cannot was a potent advocate of a passive
be a diplomatist.

defence. Tryon, meanwhile, took With the subsequent work of Sir Liverpool, while his raiding squadGeorge Tryon, Admiral Fitzgerald, ron did great damage. Thus he being master of his subject, is able was absolutely successful in gain

1

ing all his objects. But it is well Tryon disposed his fleet to cover pointed out by Mr Thursfield that the entrance to the Channel in his opponent would not have been such masterly fashion that not a thrown back on the rather futile single vessel got through. Three strategy of watching the Thames were taken ; the others returned had the country at that time pos- to their base at Queenstown. sessed any organised system for Thence they set off raiding round collecting information of an ene- Scotland. Tryon shut up the enemy's movements along the coast my's slower ships in Queenstown, and transmitting it to an admiral and sent a strong detachment after at sea. In default of such a sys- the raiders. Thanks to the new tem and of numerous fast cruisers, signal system, two out of the Tryon disappeared from the mo- enemy's three battleships were capment the blockade was raised, and tured, and the operations closed there was nothing for it but to wait with the British fleet supreme at for him at what seemed his most every point. likely objective. Avoiding this The lesson of 1889 was thus as objective, Tryon was enabled to do consoling to the tax-payer as that vast damage to ports, towns, and of 1888 was disquieting. Cershipping, although there was ac- tainly both might be pressed too tually an unbeaten British fleet in far. It is no disparagement to being, of greatly superior strength Tryon's able opponent to say that to his own.

superior tactical skill may in each Next year the Admiralty pro case have been a factor in the fited by both the lessons learned result. But the general concluin 1888. It had been shown that sion from the 1889 manœuvres the close blockade of a hostile fleet was that with a superior British was difficult, if not impossible, fleet in being, well provided with without a greater preponderance fast scouts and backed by an of force than Tryon's opponent efficient system of coast intellithen possessed-greater also than gence, an enemy will never be able Britain could then expect to pos- to attempt any serious enterprise sess in dealing with France alone, against our islands. Mr Thursto say nothing of a combination of field puts the point admirably. Powers. Therefore another sys- The plan of sending fast ships tem of blockade was adopted. The to evade Tryon and raid London British squadrons, this year com did not, perhaps, deserve to fail; manded by Tryon, were to lie in but “its failure was a better illusport, observing the enemy's squad- tration of sound strategic principle rons by means of fast cruisers. than its success could possibly This year, also, there had been have been.” As it was, the raid created a system of coast signal resulted in grave loss to the assailstations connected by telegraph ants. But even if they had got with headquarters. Tryon's busi- past Tryon, they could never have ness, then, was not to prevent his undertaken serious operations with inferior enemy from putting to his superior and unbroken fleet sea, but to prevent him from doing behind them. Admiral Fitzgerald damage on the British coasts. He quotes a valuable criticism of the was once more brilliantly success- German Admiral Batsch to the ful. His opponent tried to evade same effect. So with the subhim, to send fast ships up the sequent raid. It happened that Channel, and to raid the Thames. the raiders were all but annihi

lated. If they had not been, the most insisted on. It is not Tryon's damage they could have done death but Tryon's life that Adwould never have borne compari- miral Fitzgerald has professed to son with the damage they actually set before us. This is only decent suffered by the capture of two out justice to a man whose country of three of them. In other words, was prosperous in him in all things the advantage to an enemy of up to his death; and it is also raiding our coasts while we have only judicious towards the reader, an unbroken and superior fleet is since he can learn nothing from not worth the risk of disaster to Tryon's death, but very much that the raider. What we need, then, is of great profit from his life. to ensure immunity for our coasts For the rest, the account of the is a superior fleet of battleships final catastrophe is clear, succinct, and sufficient means of intelli- and sensible. To the frequent gence, both by cruisers and coast- questions why somebody did not stations, to keep touch with the do something other than was done, enemy. As long as this is done and so avert the disaster, Admiral he cannot hurt us. If he recog. Fitzgerald gives the only rational nises our superior force, we have reply. - The whole British nathe command of the sea. If he tion," he reminds us, "admired does not, he will fight for the and rejoiced in the fine display of command; and it is our own fault discipline manifested by the offiif he does not recognise our superi cers and ship’s company of the Vicority after that.

toria. The foundation of that As Tryon was largely instru- discipline, the spirit which gave it mental in the experimental en- life, was precisely the same spirit forcement of these theories, so he which forbade Captain Bourke to was unwearied in his efforts to give the order for the closing of bring the fleet into a condition water-tight doors in the presence of to act on them advantageously. Sir George Tryon. We may regret Many branches of such effort, it; but at the same time it is not admirably presented as they are logical to expect to have the discipby the biographer, are perhaps too line just when we want it, and to technical to be here discussed with dispense with it, or to have it overconfidence or profit. Tryon's sys- ridden, when we do not want it.” tem of manæuvres without signals, As for the reason of the Admiral's for example, ought to be left to fatal order, our author is equally the expert judgment of sailors, sensible. This was the position. though any landsman can see that The two columns, headed respecin the naval actions of the future tively by Victoria and Campersignalling may easily become im- down, were six cables apart. possible, and some such system Tryon wanted to bring them to therefore imperative. To the two cables, preparatory to anchorgeneral reader the subject will ing. The turning circle of the perhaps be of most interest as squadron he always estimated at leading up to the awful tragedy four cables. To bring the columns of the Admiral's end. This is of from the cruising to the anchoring course discussed by Admiral Fitz- distance, therefore, it was enough gerald. But let it be said to the for one column to circle inwards, infinite credit both of his feeling thus reducing the interval by four and his good sense, that this part cables. Tryon ordered both to of his story is far from being the turn, thus halving the necessary

« PoprzedniaDalej »