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she has also not neglected the building of cruisers and torpedo craft. A crisis is in view, and public opinion is divided. One section of the nation-certainly the most powerful-urges the Government to press forward the scheme of necessary naval expansion no matter what the burden thrown on the British taxpayers may be, since peace is our highest interest, and peace can be secured only by a supreme fleet. Another section of the nation, represented by 144 members of the House of Commons, threaten political reprisals on the Government if the strength of the Fleet is not further reduced, in spite of German activity in particular and the renewed contest in naval power upon which other nations are already entering; they plead that the programme of social reform to which they are committed can be carried out only if the cost of the Navy is cut down. If the expenditure on the Fleet is reduced, the first economy which any Board of Admiralty will effect will probably be in the direction of the squadrons in extra-territorial waters.
What is to be the attitude of the Colonies at this juncture when, in the words of Mr. Chamberlain, the weary Titan groans under the weight of Empire ? Economies on the Fleet have already been effected to the extent of twenty-six and a half millions in four years, while the outlay in Germany and other countries has been increased. Is the Mother Country to be left unaided, and be permitted to tread the downward path until at last the British Fleet is no longer supreme? Will the selfgoverning Colonies continue to claim the privileges of practically free parental protection that has been accorded to them without stint by the Mother Country in the days of their infancy, or will they gather round the Old Country and lend her a helping hand so as to meet the challenge to British supremacy decisively, and thus probably dishearten effectually rival Powers and render nugatory all their plans? Will they cease to play with naval shams, and consider seriously how they can assist in the costly task of maintaining a fleet of unquestionable strength not merely to defend the British Isles, but to continue the all-world watch and ward which has been kept in the past, and thus safeguard those lines of communication which are the arteries of Empire? What will the Colonies do?
SHOWING THE FLAG IN COLONIAL WATERS. In considering the problem it is essential to understand what is the attitude of the British authorities towards the Colonies, and what is the attitude of the Colonies towards the British naval authorities. At practically the sole expense of the British taxpayers, large squadrons are maintained outside European
waters. We in the Mother Country have not abandoned our traditional protection of colonial interests. This is a point which must be clearly stated, because, under the influence of recent political events, an effort has been made to convince the people of the British Empire that the United Kingdom has already tired of her burden and relaxed her former jealous care over British and colonial interests in distant waters. Lord Esher, as a member of the Committee of Imperial Defence, has recently endeavoured to make the blood of the British people run cold by an imaginary picture of the eminence from which they have fallen. In a recent article he stated that even ten years ago on the eve of the South African war the flag of England flew supreme over the oceans and seas of the world. To-day in the Pacific the naval power of England has yielded to the United States on the western littoral, and to Japan in the Far East.” Lord Esher would have been well-advised if he had made sure of his facts before indulging in such a misleading picture of British naval power. It is years, very many years, since the flag of England flew supreme over all the oceans and seas of the world, if indeed it can be said that at any period in modern times such a statement was true. Certainly any such statement is entirely beside the mark as applied to ten years ago, on the eve of the naval renaissance which occurred almost immediately after the first Peace Conference, and which changed so dramatically the aspect of the world's seas.
It is unfortunate that Lord Esher, of all publicists, should encourage the common mistake that the British Navy has recently lost the position of " cock of the walk.” He is thus pandering to the worst form of jingoism, and does nothing to advance the cause which he has undoubtedly at heart. More than ten years ago the naval power of England had yielded to the United States in the Atlantic and to Japan in the Far East; the change was inevitable, because we cannot simultaneously be supreme against every Power in every sea, though as the seas in these days of steam are one we can with a Two-Power Standard Fleet hold our own against any probable combination. It might be imagined from many loose statements which are now indulged in that ten years ago we dominated the seas of the world, whereas every authority admits that at that time we were barely up to a Two-Power Standard, while ten years earlier we were on a bare equality with France alone. Our representation in the Atlantic in 1898 was less, far less than it is to-day, and our prestige, represented by naval power, was at a comparatively low ebb. In the whole of the Atlantic at that time we had only one battleship and an assortment of cruisers of insignificant
power, whereas already the United States had concentrated on the Atlantic seaboard a navy consisting of five battleships and twelve cruisers. On the other hand, our naval power in the Atlantic is to-day represented by six battleships, four armoured and two protected cruisers, which are continually cruising between Gibraltar and Berehaven on the Irish coast, defending British interests in the Atlantic, north, east, west, and south, more effectively than ever before. We also have a force of cruisers in the West Indies. The British sea forces immediately available in the Atlantic are greater to-day than at any period during Lord Esher's lifetime.
Turning to the Far East, ten years ago we had in these waters a squadron which was only slightly superior to that of Russia alone, after we had denuded the Mediterranean of two battleships. Even when the British squadron in Chinese waters had been reinforced, our naval power in the Far East was far from being supreme, without taking into account the Navy of Japan, which was then being prepared to contest the command of the Far Eastern seas with any ambitious European Power, and already possessed eight battleships and twenty-four cruisers, beside small craft. We had, it is true, four small cruisers in the North Pacific--ships of no fighting power, cut off from any possibility of co-operation with more powerful commands, and a danger to themselves and to British prestige in case of war. These ships have been withdrawn because they served no useful purpose. For the rest, our naval forces in all the world's seas are more supreme than ten years ago.
We have conciliated our traditional enemy France, who is now practically our ally, and we have a definite defensive agreement with Japan. In commission there are upwards of four hundred men-of-war flying the White Ensign, under the command of twenty-one admirals; whereas ten years ago we had only eleven admirals flying their flags, and a far smaller number of captains and other officers actively engaged.
CONCENTRATION FOR WAR. It is true that a large proportion of our naval forces are now concentrated in home home waters, because the size
the size of the Fleet has grown, but it is not true that this has led to our more distant defences being neglected.
The principal changes which have taken place may be summarised under three heads :-Six battleships which prior to the war in the Far East were on the China Station have been withdrawn to the Mediterranean, and the twelve battleships which were in the Mediterranean have been incorporated in the fleets in the home seas,
while a certain number of naval officers and men who were attached to non-fighting ships which wandered aimlessly about the North Pacific and on the South-East coast of America have been detailed for duty in the fighting fleets. The concentration in home waters of twenty-six battleships in full commission and a dozen with nucleus fighting crews, beside other ships, has been the outcome of the policy of entente cordiale which has been established with the Mediterranean Powers, of the alliance which we have formed with Japan, and of the destruction which has overtaken the Russian Fleet. Our Navy is concentrated largely in British waters because concentration is the secret of success in war, and because we have no longer any occasion to keep our premier naval command in the Mediterranean and a large fleet in the Far East to neutralise Russian activity-a proceeding which, even when necessary, was costly in a high degree, because coal and stores cannot be carried such a distance for nothing, and officers and men were forced to spend their pay in foreign ports. If the German Navy had made no progress in the past ten years, it would still be the highest wisdom to concentrate the Fleet and mass it in British waters. The North Sea and the English Channel are at present the key to Europe, and so long as we maintain our preponderating force in these waters we hold in our hands the power wherewith to enforce peace in the western hemisphere, while hand in hand with Japan we dominate Far Eastern seas. We have no aggressive policy to pursue, and our sole aim is to secure the status quo in the East and in the West, and to ensure the maintenance of the prestige of the sea-divided British Empire and the freedom of its mercantile marine to go where it will in peace and safety.
The whole foreign and naval policy of this country has been directed to these ends, and the people of the United Kingdom continue to bear the burden not only of the defence of their own interests, but of the protection of the whole wide range of Empire and of the large sea-borne trade which the Colonies carry on with one another and with foreign countries.
GROWTH OF COLONIAL REVENUE.
In the early days of the self-governing Colonies, when they were struggling to make both ends meet, the Mother Country willingly bore the charges for the Fleet, but now the position is changed. The Colonies are no longer in leading strings, and year by year their State revenues are increasing in magnitude. This point may be illustrated by the following table from the
Statesman's Year Book, showing the population of various sections
Population. millions sterling).
7,000,380 8,000,000 Australia and Pacific
5,712,600 44,500,000 Africa
32,549,930 21,500,000 America
285,649,837 170,000,000 United Kingdom
44,100,231 144,814,073 It may be cbjected that a large proportion of the population of India and the Colonies in America and Africa consists of natives; but the important point is not the colour of the population, but the fact that the Indian and Colonial Governments collect taxation for their administration from the white and coloured populations, and that the British Fleet is maintained for the protection of his Majesty's subjects irrespective of language, religion, or colour. It is as much to the interest of the natives of India that they should be saved from falling under the heel of Russia as it is to that of the Kaffirs of South Africa that they should be spared the experiences of the people of the Congo or those of the inhabitants of German East Africa, Whatever may be said by political agitators, the British flag stands to-day for political and religious freedom.
PRINCIPLES OF BRITISH NAVAL POLICY.
The distribution of the British Fleet is not fixed with a view to defending the United Kingdom. The policy of concentration was essential to the interests of the whole Empire. Six years ago the Admiralty in a memorandum on the principles of sea power laid down the following policy :
To any naval Power the destruction of the fleet of the enemy must always be the great object aimed at. It is immaterial where the great battle is fought, but wherever it may take place the result will be felt throughout the world, because the victor will afterwards be in a position to spread his force with a view to capturing or destroying any detached forces of his enemy.
The immense importance of the principle of concentration and the facility with which ships and squadrons can be moved from one part of the world to another it is more easy to move a fleet from Spithead to the Cape or Halifar than it is to move a large army, with its equipment, from Cape Town to Pretoria--points to the necessity of a single navy, under one control, by which alone concerted action betwern the several parts can be sured. The primary object of the British Fleet is not to defend anything, but