The British Admiralty

I

THERE was no more significant incident in the crowded drama of t he days that preceded the war than the strange scene, described by Sir W. E. Goschen, which took place at the final interview that the British Ambassador at Berlin had with Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg. No one who knows the German Chancellor would regard him as nervous and excitable. He gives the impression of an amiable man, and, what is even more rare among German statesmen, of a plain and candid man. Apart from Herr Posadowsky, I do not recall any public man of first position in Germany who seemed so free from the almost universal suggestion of secrecy that pervades the diplomatic tone of the country, or whose word one would so readily accept at its face value. That he should have so frankly revealed his mind about the action of England is not surprising, but that he should have revealed it with such an undisciplined burst of anger and astonishment is as remarkable as it is unusual. It was due in part no doubt to the failure of his attempts to preserve the peace; for that he was opposed to the war party then, as he had always been, is accepted as unquestionable by the best-informed opinion in England. But its extravagance was due to the gravity of the discovery. It was due to fear.

Germany had no doubt that, if she were opposed by Russia and France alone, her task and that of Austria would be assured of swift and easy accomplishment, and events have largely justified the calculation. But the intervention of England gravely altered the task.

It was not that Germany feared the armies of England. For them she had little respect, and her miscalculation on this point was to cost her dear: for it was the professional army of England, the best trained and the most experienced in Europe, that very largely broke the first shock of the German invasion and changed the current of the war.

But while Germany held the British army in little esteem, she had no illusions about the British navy. She knew that at sea her inferiority w as almost as indisputable as her superiority on land, and that in the event of a swift decision not being attained, her exclusion from the sea and her consequent isolation from the world would seriously prejudice her chances. The intervention of England in fact made the certainty much less certain, and the completeness of the victory much less assured.

The restraint upon her powers of offense which the British naval superiority involved had occupied the mind of Germany for twenty years. Naval supremacy had never come within the scope of Bismarck’s ambitions. His purpose was to dominate the Continent, not the extra-European world, and for this purpose he relied upon the sword. He recognized the advantage which the French navy gave to the French in 1870, especially in connection with the supply of horses from England, but that advantage he dismissed with a phrase: ‘I will deal with the French navy at Paris.’ To the end he remained indifferent to naval aspirations.

But the Kaiser’s dream of ‘a German world-empire and a Hohenzollern world-ruler’ led him naturally to cultivate naval ambitions. The command of the sea was the key to the achievement of his object, and in 1898 at Stettin he made the momentous declaration that ‘Our future lies upon the water.’ In that declaration and its implications is the seed of the antagonism between England and Germany. Up to that time the German navy had been of negligible proportions, but thenceforth its extension became the dominant new fact in the life of Germany, and with the Naval Law of 1900 there emerged definitely the challenge to Great Britain’s command of the seas. The new departure was conceived and carried out with characteristic method and thoroughness, and in Admiral von Tirpitz the Kaiser found an extremely capable instrument for his great adventure.

Von Tirpitz is not an original or imaginative mind, but he has the German industry and thoroughness. He did not initiate ideas; he followed a little slavishly, but with extraordinary efficiency, in the tradition of the country which he had set out, not merely to rival but to surpass. There is no contribution of great original quality that can be ascribed to him, and on the three capital developments of the past fifteen years — the invention of the all-big-gun ship, the submarine, and the development of the big gun — he was slow to respond. But though his conservative and uninspired temper was suspicious of new ideas and too imitative for an enterprising policy, his industry and mechanical capacity, coupled with the enthusiastic support of the Kaiser and ultimately of the country, enabled him to make his challenge a reality. Behind all the external movements of the intervening years, it was the growth of the German navy which was the idtimate consideration in the relations of the two countries.

II

For five years, however, the new cloud which was appearing in the sky of England evoked no action. The naval supremacy of the country had been so long an established fact in the national thought that it seemed almost a part of the eternal order of things. There had been, it is true, a naval sensation some twenty-five years ago, when the late Mr. W. T. Stead in the Pall Mall Gazette had temporarily shaken the country out of its sense of comfortable security. But the fear then was of France, and it was some time before the historic antagonism could be switched, in the public mind, into a new channel. But in 1905 the reply to the developing aims of Germany came in a sensational form with the emergence of the most remarkable man that the British navy has produced since Nelson.

It has been well said that Admiral Fisher is not so much a man as a natural element. He accommodates himself to no known type of character, and cuts with a sublime unconsciousness and indifference across all the conventions of men. He is like a bomb-shell in a parlor. It is fifty years since, as a lad, he was nominated for the navy by the last of Nelson’s captains, and in the intervening years he had sailed every sea and filled every position open to him in the navy. And wherever he had been and whatever post he had occupied, ‘ Jacky’ Fisher had been the centre of a new and energizing life. There was about him a freshness of mind and an audacity of temperament that made him irresistible. You might hate him or distrust him, but you could not despise or ignore him. He brought with him everywhere a fearless directness of vision that made him the unceasing challenger of things as they were. Nothing was sacred to him except the memory of Nelson, whom he quoted as freely as he quoted the Bible, with which he garnished his tumultuous talk almost as abundantly as a revivalist preacher. ‘What I object to in you,’ said King Edward — who had a great affection for the breezy sailor — on one occasion, ‘is that you are so violent.’ ‘Yes, sir,’ came the reply, ‘but the Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence and the violent man takes it by storm.’ I do not know whether this habit of scriptural quotation or his notorious love of sermons can be assumed to predicate exceptional piety. Certainly piety is not suggested by that sardonic, half-humorous, half-ruthless manner, and it must be admitted that his quotations have usually a bearing on the business of war. The comminatory Psalms make more appeal to him than the Book of Revelation.

It was Lord Ripon who first brought ‘Radical Jack’ into administrative prominence by making him Director of Naval Ordnance. He had already won reputation in the navy as a revolutionary thinker, a rebel against social traditions and accepted maxims. He had had no social backing himself, and he saw in the influences of society upon the navy the greatest danger to its efficiency, and he cared for nothing except efficiency. ‘Buggins’s turn,’ he would say, ‘is the curse of the navy. Buggins is first cousin of the Duke of Blankshire and brother-in-law of the Archbishop of Timbuctoo, and therefore he must have his turn though everybody knows he is a fool.’ And with his love of paradox he would declare that ‘ Favoritism is the secret of success ’ — favoritism, that is, of capacity, of the young man ‘who has the rope round his neck,’ of the man on the lower deck if he has the genius for the job.

Naturally all the Bugginses of the Navy were scared by the apparition of this tornado of a man. They saw all the comfortable tranquillity of the service threatened if he were allowed his head. They naturally believed that the ruts into which they had fallen were sacred. They were the ruts of the past. They had been made by the fathers of the British navy, and any interference with them was hardly distinguishable from blasphemy. Moreover, they were comfortable ruts. They saved one the trouble of thought and the inconvenience of change. It was true that the whole material of the navy had undergone a revolution, but that did not involve any revolution in thought or method. The navy had grown and did not need a surgical operation.

But though the hostility to Admiral Fisher was backed by formidable influences it failed to check his career. Once it seemed that he was beaten. He had become Second Sea Lord, but failing to get his way, he executed a retreat which his opponents hopefully regarded as equivalent to extinction. He assumed the sinecure at Portsmouth, and to his great joy, ran his own flag up on Nelson’s old flagship. But so far from having finished he had not yet really begun. His full triumph came when in 1904 Lord Selborne urged him to return to the Admiralty as First Sea Lord. He laid down fourteen essentials as the conditions of his return, and when it was agreed that they should be adopted one at a time, his reply was, ‘ No, all at once. If I’ve got to kick people’s shins, I want to kick them all together. I want them all to be too busy rubbing their own shins to turn on me when I’m occupied with other things.’

His return to Whitehall, master at last of the situation, was the signal for such an outburst of anger among the conservative elements of the service as was without parallel. For three or four years the storm continued, and the press and the nation were divided into two factions, the one supporting Sir John Fisher and his policy, the other denouncing both with savage intensity.

The principal service opponent of the First Sea Lord was Lord Charles Beresford, who represented the social side of the navy and its conservative instincts. Lord Charles Beresford had spent his career in a divided loyalty between Parliament and the navy. He had the reputation of being a gallant officer, based largely upon the phrase, ‘Well done, Condor,’ — a message sent him by Admiral Seymour at the bombardment of Alexandria. In Parliament he was not taken very seriously; and it is probable that his opposition helped rather than hindered his opponent, for there was a general feeling in the public mind that if ‘ Charlie’ Beresford was on one side, wisdom was very likely to be found on the other. But, of course, Lord Charles was only one of many. Practically all the old school, with exceptions like Sir Arthur K. Wilson, the most distinguished strategist in the navy, were opposed to the reformer, and from the writing-rooms of the service clubs there issued a torrent of envenomed criticism.

But Admiral Fisher paid no heed to the attacks and with his terrible broom made an astonishingly clean sweep of the service. There was not a department which was not transformed by his furious energy. It was as though the accumulated ideas of a lifetime were brought into play in one burst of revelation. Strategy, ships, gunnery, conditions of service, warehousing, all were brought within the orbit of his reforming energy. The fleet had been scattered all over the world according to old traditions of strategy. He concentrated it in home waters on the principle that war, if it came, would be waged in the North Sea. On the same principle, and acting on Nelson’s maxim, ‘ Your battle-ground should be your drill-ground,’ he changed the theatre of manæuvres from the Mediterranean to the North Sea. He scrapped, amid the agonies of his opponents, no fewer than one hundred and fifty obsolete warships, on the ground that they would be of no use in war, and that the men whom they employed, and whose services were largely wasted, could be more profitably used in effective ships. He invented the expedient of the ‘nucleus’ crew and so enlarged the expansive capacity of the navy. He abolished the old storage system, under which there was an incredible waste of supplies, and by getting rid of multitudes of useless ships, concentrated on efficiency and solved without cost the pressing problem of accommodation for the navy. It would be impossible to indicate all the phases of this extraordinary revolution; but not the least important of them was the change which he wrought in the mind of the navy. His hand came down with merciless weight upon every incompetent, no matter what social prestige he could command; his eye roved round the service in search of any ability that was discoverable; and when he had discovered it, no criticism or custom could prevent him from giving it free play.

In his campaign he had many foes, but also stalwart friends, and among the last the most distinguished was Sir Arthur Wilson. As a strategist his reputation was secure, and no one held it in higher esteem than Admiral Fisher. But Sir Arthur was no administrator, and though he filled at various times certain administrative offices, he had no enthusiasm for the work and was content to say ‘Ditto to Fisher,’ for whose administrative genius he had the deepest respect.

III

But the event, of course, w hich made the reign of Sir John Fisher at the Admiralty memorable was the invention of the all-big-gun ship. That invention was the most sensational event in naval history. Lord Fisher himself claims nothing more for his share in it than that he was the first to put two and two together. ‘Le Verrier and Adams,’ he would say, ‘had both arrived by mathematical demonstration at the existence of Neptune, but Le Verrier got the physical demonstration first. That was the case with me and the Dreadnought — that’s all. I was Le Verrier, but Adams would have produced the same result if he had been given more time.’ It was Admiral Sir Percy Scott’s invention of fire-control that was the real seed of the all-big-gun ship. The advantage of the single-calibre gun had impressed itself upon Admiral Fisher, and with Sir Percy’s new discovery he saw the possibility of developing his idea. With that in view he brought Captain Jellicoe to assist him as Controller of the Ordnance Department.

Captain Jellicoe was one of the young officers he had snatched out of obscurity on account of the ability he had discovered in him. Jellicoe had that modern and apprehensive type of mind that appealed to Admiral Fisher, who was sensible that the wonderful achievements of science were changing the orientation of naval thought and needed rapid, unbiassed minds to apply and coördinate them. Captain Jellicoe had won particular fame in connection with the improvement he had effected in the gunnery of the navy, and Admiral Fisher had already marked him out for the command of the navy should war come within the period of his influence It is well known in the service how ruthlessly he worked to clear the path of his protégé, and how success came at the last moment, when Jellicoe emerged over the bodies of many admirals to the post of Admiralissimo of the Fleet.

It was with feverish energy that the Dreadnought, once wrung from a reluctant board, was thrown together. It was constructed within a year and with the utmost secrecy, and its appearance created an unexampled storm. The service was rent in twain by the problems raised by the new ship, and Lord Charles Beresford headed the attack on the new theories involved. But the effect on the naval service in England was trifling to the effect in Germany. The launching of the Dreadnought was the launching of a bolt against t he German navy. It was not merely the question of the superiority of the all-biggun ship that was at issue. It is true that, if the type prevailed, England had got a new start of an invaluable character. But there was another point far more important. The Kiel Canal had just been finished. It was a great achievement of engineering that linked the Baltic at last with the North Sea, and gave the navy the absolute essential of free unobstructed movement in German waters. But a ship of the type of the Dreadnought could not pass through the Kiel Canal, and nearly ten years must elapse before the Canal could be so deepened as to receive it. In a word, Admiral Fisher had put the Kiel Canal out of action for a decade, and in doing so had enormously depreciated the value of the German navy as a fighting machine. For a time, Admiral von Tirpitz was nonplussed between the alternative of building ships that would not go through the Kiel Canal and not building ships of equal power with those of the British navy. When at last he took the plunge he had to make up for lost time. It is said that he paid £40,000 for the plans of the Dreadnought; but by the time he had got them they were largely worthless, for the Dreadnought was frankly a trial ship made to discover how such a ship should be built; and it is equally generally assumed that Von Tirpitz lost as much as he gained by the purloining of the plans. The result was that, while the British navy was correcting all the deficiencies revealed by the trial ship, Germany was laying down several ships according to the uncorrected specifications.

The invention of the Dreadnought may be taken as the opening of the second phase of the naval struggle between Germany and England. It was the answer to the challenge, and upon the way that answer was received depended the course of events. But once Admiral von Tirpitz had recovered from the shock, the question was never in doubt. So far from accepting the Dreadnought as a hint that serious competition was not to be tolerated, the German Admiralty seemed to seize on the advent of the new type of ship as the opportunity to make the competition much more effective. It was assumed that the Dreadnought had rendered the pre-Dreadnought types more or less obsolescent, and that a supremacy in all-big-gun ships would be the equivalent of naval supremacy. In pre-Dreadnoughts of the Edward VII class, and still more in the smaller vessels, the superiority of England was too overwhelming to be overtaken; but with the Dreadnought class the case was different. It was true that England had got away with the start, but not to an extent that made rivalry impossible.

With the adoption of the Dreadnought idea and the modifications of the naval law, the challenge of Germany assumed a reality that could no longer be ignored and that now began seriously to affect the public mind. There had been an eager desire on the part of the Liberal government that came to power in 1906 to move in the direction of disarmament, and for three years the pace of ship-building was checked. But there was no response from the other side of the North Sea, and in 1909 something approaching a panic seized the British public. There followed a severe struggle in the Cabinet between Mr. McKenna, the First Lord of the Admiralty, who proposed to lay down six Dreadnoughts, and Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Churchill, who wanted only four laid down. In the end there was a sham compromise on the basis of four, with a conditional four which in the end became an actual four, making, in all, not the six for which Mr. McKenna had asked, but eight.

After this demonstration of the determination of the country to maintain its position, a further attempt was made three years later to induce Germany to call a halt. Admiral Fisher had in the meantime retired from the Admiralty, being succeeded by Sir Arthur Wilson, and Mr. McKenna had been succeeded as civil head by Mr. Churchill, who announced the intention of the government to maintain a sixty per cent superiority in shipbuilding over its next rival, and accompanied the announcement with a proposal to Germany mutually to agree on a ‘naval holiday year.’ Again there was no response from the other side, and from that moment the prospect of arriving at any accommodation vanished, and the competition proceeded without any disguise.

IV

It left England, when the war broke out, still with an overwhelming preponderance of capital ships and a still greater superiority of smaller craft. But the development of events, nevertheless, was awaited with some anxiety. The public mind had just previously been disturbed by a letter from Admiral Sir Percy Scott in which he had expressed the view that the submarine was in a large measure rendering the big ship obsolete. The view was hotly controverted, but the impression it created remained and added a new speculative element to the war when it came. Moreover, there was no basis of achievement on which to build confidence in the navy. It was a century since England had been engaged in a great naval war. In the interval the whole science of naval warfare had been revolutionized. Steam had displaced wind as the motive power, wooden ships had given place to iron ships, and battles were no longer fought — as Trafalgar was fought — by vessels that were lashed to each other, but by vessels five or even ten miles apart. With the exception of the battle in the Philippines and the battle of the Sea of Japan, there had been no serious example of naval warfare under the new conditions, and the relat ive val ues of things were largely a matter of theory and speculation. On paper the superiority of the British fleet was overwhelming and in the public mind its prestige was unchallenged, but it had still to pass through the ordeal by fire.

The selection at the last moment of Admiral Jellicoe as the Admiralissimo conveyed nothing to the public, to whom he was not even a name. His choice was largely due to t he insistence of Lord Fisher, but it involved much further disregard of the traditions of seniority and very nearly led to something like a strike of admirals. Mr. Churchill, however, carried through the daring adventure with what, I believe, he himself called ‘ the courage of ignorance’ — ignorance, that is, of the strengt h of the traditions on which he trampled so heavily. On merits there was no challenge. Admiral Jellicoe had proved his capacity in every sphere of naval work, and he had shown that he possessed, not merely an unsurpassed knowledge of the instrument, but a spacious understanding of the possibilities of the new and untried factors of naval warfare. He had in the previous year commanded the attacking fleet in the naval manœuvres, and his success had been, not only brilliant, but a little startling to the inner circle of naval experts. His courage and address in circumstances of danger were as remarkable as the veracity of his thought, the calmness of his judgment, and his high sense of duty. These qualities had been revealed more than once at the point of death — when he was wounded in the advance to the relief of Tientsin, and earlier in the tragedy of the ramming of the Victoria. He was Admiral Tryon’s captain on that fatal occasion, but he was ill with fever in his cabin when the inexplicable blunder was made, and narrowly escaped with his life, — all the more narrowly because, as Admiral Sir G. Phipps Hornby has said, ‘instead of going up to save himself, he went below to hurry up any who might be there.’ When the ship foundered, he came to the surface necessarily in a state of exhaustion and was saved only by the help of a midshipman.

Probably the most fortunate circumstance for the Grand Fleet was the fact that it was transferred to the North Sea in the nick of time. It was on the Thursday night before the outbreak of war that the decision was taken, and it was acted on at once while the course was still clear of mines anti submarines.

I have reason to know that this early advantage in the great st ruggle for the sea was the source of much lamentation at Kiel. No less deep was the anger at another step taken at the same time. Two Dreadnoughts for the Turkish government were at that moment approaching completion in the Tyne, and they were appropriated by the British Admiralty. The anger of Admiral von Tirpitz at this action was the more intense because, as there is good ground for thinking, the building of the ships had been financed with German money, and for all practical purposes they were a potential part of the German navy.

But these advantages, important though they were, did not touch the problem of the new and incalculable factors in naval warfare, and the early stages of the struggle were hardly reassuring. The victory of the British navy in the Heligoland Bight showed the superiority of British seamanship in the traditional operations of naval war, but the torpedoing of three British armored cruisers by one submarine gave a shock to public confidence, and seemed like a very serious confirmation of the view with which Sir Percy Scott had disturbed the public mind in the spring. Nor was this the only disquieting episode. The escape of the Goeben and the Breslau, — a very discreditable episode for which no one was punished, — the ill-advised and ill-fated action off Chile, and the long license allowed to the Emden, all served to qualify the fact that, broadly speaking, the British navy had established its superiority by sweeping the enemy’s mercantile marine off the seas and locking the German navy up in German harbors.

There were facts, too, in connection with the control of the navy which added to the unsettled feeling of these anxious days. Prince Louis of Battenberg had been appointed First Sea Lord when Sir Arthur Wilson retired two or three years before. It was generally agreed when Mr. Churchill made the appointment that Prince Louis owed nothing to his social position and that he was a first-rate sailor. But the selection was ill-advised, especially if Mr. Churchill realized, as he must have done, that war with Germany was at least conceivable. There was of course no doubt about the absolute loyalty of Prince Louis; but the fact remained that he was a German, born in Germany and owning property in Germany; and it was just neither to him nor to the country that the navy at a critical time should be under such equivocal control. Rumors of the wildest sort filled the public mind, and it was unavoidable that suspicion that spared no one should be particularly busy with the First Sea Lord, who was popularly reported to be in the Tower. He was of course at the Admiralty doing his duty, but the suspicion that enveloped him could not but be fatal to his efficiency, for if he acted on his own initiative with unfortunate results it was obvious that the darkest construction would be put on his motives by the ignorant.

In these circumstances, Mr. Churchill exercised a power which did not properly belong to the civil head of the Admiralty, and he exercised it with that enjoyment of action which is his chief characteristic. Mr. Churchill has astonishing energy of mind, but it is an energy that needs a strong control from without, for, more than any man in public life, he is the slave of an idea. He does not possess it, but is obsessed by it; and once he is started in its pursuit, his momentum is unchecked by consideration for any restraints however sacred or for any opinion however authoritative. He has genius, but it is genius which is feverish and fanatical; and when during his Home Secretaryship he brought artillery up to bombard the alien murderers in Sidney Street, he gave a revelation of himself which was conclusive to those who appreciated the significance of melodrama in the political sphere. There was a feeling that he was not indisposed to leave Prince Louis at the Admiralty for the sake of the influence it gave him over the operations of the navy; but Prince Louis very properly relieved the situation by resigning his position, and the return of Lord Fisher as the professional head of the navy was universally welcomed.

Lord Fisher’s influence was immediately felt. The folly of leaving ships of the Canopus type to round up Von Spee was at once corrected. ‘What is the use of sending the tortoise to catch the hare?’ asked Lord Fisher with his picturesque humor. ‘Why did the Almighty give greyhounds long legs?’ And without an hour’s delay the fastest cruisers in the fleet were dispatched to give Von Spee battle. There were protests. The ships could not be spared, and if they were spared some days must elapse before the necessary repairs could be executed. ‘You may take the whole dockyard with you, but you must sail at once.’ They sailed at once, and they had hardly an hour to spare, for they were still coaling at the Falkland Islands when Von Spee’s squadron was sighted.

V

But the collision of two such masterful men as Lord Fisher and Mr. Churchill meant trouble, and it came with the proposal to make a naval attack on the Dardanelles. The political and economic importance of a successful stroke here was obvious, and to the dramatic genius of Mr. Churchill the adventure was irresistible. But Lord Fisher was opposed to creating a new theatre of naval warfare. The war was to be won and lost in the North Sea, and any weakening of power in the crucial theatre of action was a mistake. In any case, the attack must not be an unsupported naval enterprise. The Straits were held to be invulnerable to the navy, and a necessary preliminary was to secure the command of the narrows by an effective occupation of the Gallipoli Peninsula. But time was short, the stakes were high, a big success was needed, Greece at the moment seemed on the brink of joining the Allies, and the political considerations enabled Mr. Churchill to have his way, and the navy was launched against the forts of the Straits. Lord Fisher, ‘swearing he would ne’er consent, consented,’ and must bear his part of the responsibility for the failure that culminated in the loss of three battleships on March 18. With that disaster, the gravity of the task was fully realized, the unsupported naval attack was stopped, and preparations were made for landing an army on the Peninsula. But the possibility of a surprise had now vanished, for the Turks had had two months’ warning and had converted the Peninsula into a fortress.

Meanwhile a new conflict had arisen between Mr. Churchill and Lord Fisher as to the use of the fleet in the Dardanelles. Lord Fisher was indisposed to run any more risks with his capital ships in such perilous waters, and finally, convinced that coöperation with the First Lord was impossible, sent in his resignation. Then followed the Cabinet crisis, and Mr. Churchill disappeared from the Admiralty. But that was not enough to induce Lord Fisher to withdraw his resignation. He would not remain if Mr. Churchill continued in the Cabinet, for he had now come to the conclusion that nothing but the entire elimination of the ex-First Lord would prevent him from exercising his masterful influence on naval strategy. But Lord Fisher had put his back to the wall too late. He was implicated in the first failure, and that fact destroyed his power to dictate conditions which challenged the authority of the Prime Minister as to the composition of his new Cabinet. But though he had lost personally, Lord Fisher had won on the main issue. The Queen Elizabeth was brought home and no more risks were run with capital ships.

With the passing of this storm and its tragic warnings an entirely new régime was established at the Admiralty. Mr. Balfour, who has succeeded Mr. Churchill, is not an adventurer, but a philosopher who has strayed into politics as Herbert Spencer used to stray into the billiard room for a little light amusement. But he has seriousness and wide understanding, and is free from the egoism which would lead him to override instructed and expert opinion.

Associated with him as First Sea Lord is a man far removed from the imaginative force and masterful temper of Lord Fisher. Admiral Jackson belongs to the official strain, but he has, in addition to his character as an efficient seaman, the important merit of being one of the greatest living authorities on the torpedo and submarine warfare. The government showed an appreciation of the teachings of the war by giving weight to this fact in making the new appointment. The main problems of strategy were clear; the superiority of our ships, our guns, and our seamanship was established; but in the more subtle spheres of the struggle Germany had won conspicuous successes. It will be the chief indictment against Admiral von Tirpitz that before the war he did not realize his problem. He imitated the British navy, and did not discover until war began that his real offensive instrument was the submarine. It is from that weapon that the menace has come.

There is general agreement that, in the light of that menace, the whole problem of naval construction will have to be reconsidered. Doubtless science, which has invented the bane, will also invent the antidote; but at present there is no assurance that the submarine may not be the master of the situation, and in that case the security of the British Islands will be imperiled. It is for this reason that every resource of knowledge is being applied to the submarine problem, and Lord Fisher has himself returned to the Admiralty to take charge of the inventions department. It is the crucial sphere. We may laugh at the ‘blockade’ and denounce the crimes with which it is enforced. But the fact remains that the submarine has shown us that we are vulnerable. Had Germany understood that at the beginning; had she, instead of starting the war with 30 submarines, started it with 300, the outlook to-day would have been much more serious. As it is, the future is shadowed with a peril which seems illimitable, and if we are to compass that peril and make the seas about our shores again inviolate, the answer to the submarine must be found.