LIFE AND WORK IN THE NAVY.* PEOPLE sometimes talk as
if the necessity for the command of the sea being in English hands were a new idea, and as if it had been reserved for the present generation to realise that but for the command of the sea we should be of all men most miserable. In reality our fathers before us knew the fact well enough. Even in the sixties, a period supposed to be specially benighted on the question of sea-power, we actually put the necessity for the command of the sea into the preamble of an Act of Parliament. Listen to the preamble of the 29 and 30 Vic. cap. cix.,—the statute which secures discipline in the Navy :—" Whereas it is expedient to amend the law relating to the government of the navy, whereon, under the good providence of God, the wealth, safety, and strength of the kingdom chiefly depend." We presume this declaration as to our safety resting on our ships is founded upon a form of words in some earlier law, but the fact that it was introduced by the Parliamentary draughtsmen into the Act of 1866 is most signi- ficant. Curiously enough the lawyers seem always to have had a strong sense of the vital importance of the Navy. Bacon, in one of his political writings—those strange, almost weird, utter- ances where flights of high imagination are side by side with the keenest statecraft—talks of England as " The Lady of the Sea," and infers that without her ships she is nothing. Even the pedantic if weighty intellect of Lord Coke was warmed by the thought of England's Navy. It is in an almost lyric strain of eulogy that in the Institutes he speaks of our vessels of war :—" The King's Navy exceeds all others in the world for three things, viz., beauty, strength, and safety. For beauty they are so many Royal Palaces ; for strength (no part of the world having such iron and timber as England bath), so many moving castles and barbicans; and for safety they are the most defensive walls of the realm. Amongst the ships of other nations, they are like lions among silly beasts or falcons among fearful fowle." It is delightful to see how the stiff old lawyer's heart is warmed by the thought of our sea-power, and how he tumbles into that noble mixed metaphor which was used so finely by Macaulay two hundred years later. Was Macaulay, we wonder, remembering Coke when in his " Armada" he calls England " The Lion of the Sea " P So entrancing, indeed, is the subject of the Navy to Coke that it leads him into personal reminiscences. He goes on to say how " In the reign of Queen Elizabeth (I being then acquainted with this business) there were thirty-three [i e., ships] besides pinnaces which so guarded and reguarded the navigation of the merchants as they had safe vent for their commodities, and trade and traffic flourished." " A worthy subject," he ends, "for Parliament to take into con- sideration and to provide remedy as often as need shall quire."
The truth is, that whenever the heart and mind of England has been awake, we have realised that the words of the oracle to the Athenians are more significant for us than even for the fellow-citizens of Themistocles. Unless we trust to our walls of wood and iron we are undone. But we cannot trust to them unless we are willing to rouse ourselves to the effort to build them and keep them in good order, and to man them with capable defenders. The fact that we are now all so busy reminding ourselves of the importance of a Navy shows that we must have gone perilously near to forgetting where our safety lies. Fortunately we are awaking out of our slumber, but even now the nation has not entirely cast off its drowsiness. Some of us are still " drowned in security," while others are only half believers in the need for an invincible Navy. That being so, everything which tends to interest the nation in its ships and the men who fight them is of use, and we therefore
TIII Whits Snlicrit : Notes on Life and Work in her Majesty's Navy. Con• tribntod by Naval 001co-a, Landon itoy and Co.
welcome the volume of essays which compose the present book. The book is not a great or a complete one in any sense, but since it is written in a popular style, and since it appeals to the plain man rather than to the expert, we rejoice at its appearance. It may get readers where a more elaborate and ambitious book would fail.
The first essay in the book, entitled " The White Ensign," will help to make people realise how ubiquitous is our Navy. The bulk of our Fleet is where the fighting force of an Empire ought to be massed,—namely, on its frontiers. But the frontiers of the United Kingdom are not the coasts of Britain. The blue water is part of our realm, and our borders are the home waters of other nations. If this is not so, then we have lost the command of the sea. The White Ensign is the flag of our warships, but to see much of the White Ensign it is necessary, as is well pointed out in the work before us, to leave Great Britain and her shores. Another readable essay, though we confess one better meant than expressed, is that devoted to the officers of the Navy. It brings out the special characteristics of our officers. Very interesting, too, is the
chapter devoted to the bluejackets and marines. The writer is perhaps apt to get a little confused, or at any rate to make his reader feel confused. Still, the impression of the multi- tude of things which a bluejacket is expected to do and know is well-conveyed. He is expected to be, and often is, a perfect " Admirable Crichton," as regards all that human hands can do :— " A Bluejacket should, first of all, be a good sailor, one who can ' hand, reef, and steer ; ' that is, he can hand or furl a sail, which is rolling it up properly on the yards at sea; he can reef a sail, which is making it smaller, when necessary from increasing wind, by the taking in of what is called 'reefs ; ' and he can steer a ship with tiller or wheel, knowing the compass. He must be a fair rigger as well, knowing how to put together and prepare all the different parts of the rigging of a ship ; he must be able to pull or sail a boat: he must be able to heave the lead to ascertain the depth of water as the ship moves ; and in doing all these things he must be active and quick. But there is more besides : he should be a gunner, and a seaman-gunner first of all, able to take any place in handling and working a large and heavy gun, in a ship at sea, under all circumstances ; and that of some of the man-of-wars men of to-day we believe there are no finer gunners to be found. Whatever may be wanted to be done with a gun, we will back them to do it. A Bluejacket should be a sailor and a gunner; and still we have not finished. Besides these func- tions, in which he should be nulli secundus, he ought to be a fair infantry soldier, able to take his place in a company, and with that company in a battalion, and be should especially know how to skirmish. The seaman-gunner qualities of a Bluejacket should enable him to take part in a field or rocket battery, bringing his field guns and rockets on shore with him, harnessing himself into the drag-ropes, and taking those guns or rockets anywhere a man can go. A Bluejacket should be a fair swordsman, and he is taught sword drill with the sword-bayonet of his rifle; added to which, the more he knows of electricity the better. These points we have enumerated may be considered the aggressive qualifica- tions; and to them must be added the peaceful avocations, in each of which a Bluejacket can be most useful when well up to his work. To give these peaceful or domestic labours their due, they must be put in the feminine, and we, therefore, say a Blue- jacket should be a first-rate housemaid' and ' washerwoman,' for he has to scrub the decks, his mess.table, clean paint work, and polish wood and brass ; to scrub, wash, wring, and mangle his clothes and the hammock in which he sleeps. To finish up his virtues, the more he knows of tailoring and sewing the better for himself ; and any such little accomplishments as using a paint- pot, polishing, or carving, are all gratefully accepted and fit in well."
Into the difficult question of naval discipline we cannot enter on the present occasion, except to say that we entirely agree as to the absolute necessity for strictness. A ship without strict discipline is a. hell. We do not, however, believe that there is the slightest risk that better education, a higher moral standard, and an enlarged mental horizon will in the end tend in the least degree to destroy or injure the essentials of discipline. It is the undeveloped and uncivilised man that is hard to discipline, not the man of greater culture. Look at the discipline of junior and subordinate officers. Their obedi- ence to orders is more, not less, perfect than that of the men, and yet they are infinitely more developed mentally and
morally than the ordinary man. Yet, except when they are boys, their high standard of discipline is enforced without the slightest trouble. The same thing is seen in the conscript armies. The University student is a far more manageable recruit than the German peasant.
We will close our a000unt of the present volume by two short quotations from the last essay,-a general one, entitled
" The Royal Navy." The first shall be the account of what would happen if we lost command of the sea in war-time :—
" The great weakness of Great Britain on the sea is the food supply of the country. Do our readers realise what that means ? We believe, so easily do we get what we want, that it is generally forgotten how three out of every four living beings in these islands are fed and clothed by provisions and goods brought over sea, and that the annual food supply alone amounts to 11,000,000 tons' weight. Do what you can by striking off luxuries, you cannot get rid of more than 1,000,000 tons in the year, leaving 10,000,000 tons' weight of actual necessities —over 800,000 tons a month, 200,000 tons in any one week ; a slight check to this supply runs up prices to the starvation point for millions of people. All note is left out of the question of the supply of raw material, by which so many millions of operatives obtain the wherewithal to purchase; and those who remember the cotton famine can tell what that means. The supply of food, therefore, is so all-important, that to check it even would be the aim of Great Britain's enemies—for which they would make the greatest efforts, knowing quite well that distress in the country alone would bring terms of peace within measurable distance. This picture might be enlarged with per- fect truth to any extent, but it may be summed up in saying, that if possession of the sea is wrested from us, the stoppage of the food supply must reduce the country to terms in a very short time ; when invasion becomes possible, it is unnecessary."
Our last word shall be to extract the excellent advice given to the general public as to what should be their general attitude towards the Navy :—
" Never mind the arguments about the seaworthiness or unsea worthiness of the ships, the life and endurance of the guns, the capabilities of the boilers ; leave the experts to quarrel over these things to their heart's content, it is a way they have, and is an enjoyment to them, but insist on ships, and ships, and ships, with officers and men capable to man and fight them, also reserves of both, there cannot be too many for the safety, honour, and welfare of the country, as well as for the peace of the world. Do not be bothered about invasion when that is talked of, ask for ships : the other day there was actually a talk of fortifying London, fortify- ing the Governors' House inside the citadel ! How delighted the world must have been ! If London is in danger, it does not mean earthworks and batteries, but that another fleet is required in being—an extra fleet if necessary. With Great Britain, let it be borne in mind, the building of a battleship or a cruiser is required instead of a shore battery."