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career; and it is difficult to believe that a man of his clear views on most questions could possibly have deceived himself by his own arguments. He must, on the contrary, have had many bitter moments of remorse when the deeds of the past rose up before him in the solitude of St. Helena.
Writing under the date already mentioned (the 22nd of October 1815), Sir George Cockburn gives these personal glimpses of Napoleon :
Since General Bonaparte's arrival at St. Helena, I have been so occupied that I have seen but little of him. I went with him, however, one day to Longwood, and he seemed tolerably satisfied with it, though both he and his attendants have since been complaining a good deal. The General having stated to me that he could not bear the crowds which gathered to see him in the town, he has at his own request been permitted to take up his residence (until Longwood should be ready) at a small house called The Briars, where there is a pretty good garden and a tolerably large room detached from the house, of which he has taken possession, and in which and in the garden he remains almost all the day. In the evenings, I understand, he has regularly invited himself to join the family party in the house, where he plays at whist with the ladies of the family for sugar plums until his usual hour of retiring for the night.
The greatest conqueror of modern times playing at whist for sugar plums is a severely simple spectacle, but it is a better and more humane one than that presenting him as the instigator of the crime by which the Duc d'Enghien was sent to his death. Never was there a monarch who played so recklessly with human life-whether in its individual or aggregate aspect--as Napoleon; and it would furnish strange reading if the world could have a real transcript of his inmost thoughts as he paced the gloomy and rockbound island of St. Helena.
G. BARNETT SMITH.
VoL, XLI-No. 239
FRENCH NAVAL POLICY IN
PEACE AND WAR
In a recent article ' it has been shown, and reasons have been given for the belief, that France has allowed the psychological moment for attacking Germany in a single-handed war of revenge to pass by, that the desire for such war of revenge is passing away despite the increasing bombast of superficial military display, but that the many and grave causes which have brought about this new and only partially realised situation do not appeal to the sentiments and material interests of the French people when war with England comes in sight; finally, that the chances of such war are worthy of serious consideration by all those interested in the defence of our Empire.
There are three methods of examining this question : the first is to think out and reflect upon our action in such war; the second, to regard the subject from both points of view in order to properly combine and harmonise our arrangements for defence and attack; and the third, to limit our investigations to the French side of the question. On all that concerns our action, the initiative we may take, the rapid or more carefully prepared blows we may intend to deliver, the less said the better. Here and there one finds a politician foolish or wicked enough to discuss in public our offensive policy, but fortunately it is the exception ; every hint and every suggestion thrown out on such a subject is at once reported to foreign Intelligence Offices, and on the very rare occasions when action that has been academically considered is accidentally hit upon by irresponsible writers one finds the reflex in corresponding precautions, movements, or additions to defences which may go far to promote the failure of the measure proposed.
In the same way, and for even more obvious reasons, no discussion on the double action of defence and attack is admissible.
But with regard to the ideas, theories, and preparations of a possible enemy there may be less reserve, since these can be gleaned, to a very large extent, from writings and speeches of leading authorities on the other side, from admissions or hints allowed to
United Service Magazine, November 1896.
drop in unguarded moments, from reports of committees and commissions, and from naval or military programmes and preparations taking place in conformity with the ruling and prevalent opinions of defence councils. These things not only can be known, but ought to be known, since they alone afford the necessary light by which we can take corresponding precautions.
In all our great wars the navy has taken the first place, it has generally delivered or received the first blows, and upon its success or failure the whole after-conduct of the war hinges; the question whether a foreign navy can or cannot obtain the command of the sea in a war against Britain, cover the act of invasion, if such is premeditated, or, under modern conditions, so harass our great seaborne trade that we may be forced thereby to sign an ignominious peace, is therefore the question which naturally comes before everything else.
In considering questions of naval strategy the greater number of modern writers have adopted the historical method ; they have analysed past events, have shown how effect follows cause, and from these inquiries have built up certain laws, or, rather, have enunciated certain great principles of naval strategy that have held good and will hold good for all time. But a few do not rest satisfied with the deduction of great principles from past naval history, and would force us to accept as mathematical truths, that is to say, as absolute and infallible, certain deductions of their own which can never be assimilated to mathematical sciences, and, in fact, have the most profound and essential differences. Just as in painting and in literature true masters have obtained their greatest successes, not by following trodden paths, but by knowing when and how far they may depart from them, so in military operations a great number of factors have to be considered-finesse, sagacity, character, tradition, and other moral elements, all of which are included in the term the art of war,' which is no pedantic expression, but corresponds to a real truth, since, like all other arts, it is far removed from pure science.
History is without a doubt the firmest and safest basis for inquiry, but it is not everything ; if we are to accept as final that what has happened in the past will happen again in the future, it must be proved that the conditions of the past and the present are identical and immutable, and who will venture to affirm that they are? Besides, we presumably wish to study defence problems from the point of view of our possible enemy; if we encumber ourselves with fine principles which are not accepted as truths by the other side, we run a very great risk of approaching the study of this question from a point of view which has everything to recommend it except that it is not that of our enemy, and, so far from helping us to understand or gauge his action and its effect, in fact blinds us to truths that might otherwise be obvious. These considerations refer to the manner in
which some writers deal with the question of invasion. Even if one may pass by certain forced interpretations of very plain historical facts-needless now to specify since they recall many dreary and long-winded arguments that are best buried in oblivion, and also a certain assumption of infallibility with which modern commentators assert their dogma—one cannot avoid the conclusion that the cheery optimism which insists that no territorial attack will take place until naval superiority is asserted, is excessively dangerous, since, whether true or false, whether supported by all the weighty evidence of history or the reverse, it is only an opinion, and one that is not accepted as a fundamental truth by either France or Germanynations we may to-day or to-morrow find arrayed against us. recognise and anticipate the fact that foreign opinion is not with us in this matter we shall be safe, but if we wrap ourselves up in comfortable theories we incur the greatest risk.
• We at sea,' wrote Collingwood in 1798, 'I am well assured, will do our part, and would that the contest were to be decided there; but this the enemy will avoid by every possible means, for their dependence is on being landed before our fleet can prevent them, and, considering how near the coasts are, the thing is practicable.'
It is, of course, known that some people deny that Napoleon ever intended to invade England, and they constantly bring forward Bourrienne's Memoirs and a conversation between Napoleon and Metternich in 1810 to prove their case. To this, one may answer that Bourrienne's Memoirs are clever, but quite devoid of historical value, and that Baron de Ménéval has shown in the most conclusive manner that Bourrienne had no knowledge of Napoleon's policy in the years 1803-5, while as for the conversation of 1810, the struggle with England was still at its height, and Napoleon was not the man to disclose his mind to an enemy at such a moment. Be.. sides, any one who reads the voluminous correspondence between Napoleon and Decrès, and takes note of the gigantic preparations made on the coast between Etaples and the Texel, as well as of Napoleon's fury when Villeneuve's failure was reported to him, can only draw the obvious meaning from plain and incontrovertible facts.
In studying French naval policy of the past, and in searching for the causes which have so constantly produced failure, we find that two facts stand out with peculiar prominence : first, that France has always followed a double national objective by sea and land, and secondly, that the direction imparted to her naval policy has seldom continued long in one stay and has constantly varied with varying councillors. France is, and always has been, a military nation in the common acceptation of the term, with great land frontiers to defend, and continental rivalries to combat : added to which, she has been hypnotised for the past five-and-twenty years by the thought that she has a military vengeance to exact and continental territories to recover.
Pages have been written to prove that the threat of Torrington's more or less uninjured fleet prevented invasion after the battle of Beachy Head, but the activity of France was as usual so little confined to one purpose that, when the battle was fought, she had five armies in the field—Catinat in Savoy, the Duc de Noailles in Catalonia, de Lorge and the Dauphin in Germany, and Luxembourg in Flanders; and that no invasion of England took place may be attributed to very simple causes-namely, want of troops to make the descent, and absence of preparation for such a considerable undertaking.
The second distinguishing characteristic of French naval policy, want of continuity, we find exemplified in a striking manner in the history of French naval programmes. So far back as 1820 Baron Portal, Minister of Marine, obtained nearly 29,000,0001. sterling for the first of these programmes, which was intended to provide fiftyfour ships of the line and sixty-six frigates in eleven years, but in 1835 not only had the sum allotted been largely exceeded, but only fifteen ships of the line and twenty-eight frigates were in a fit state to sail and fight. Fresh programmes succeeded one another and increased expenditure, yet in every crisis France was unready for war. In the Crimean War she was only prepared to take the offensive seriously at the conclusion of peace, and in 1870 she could not maintain the blockade of an enemy who was almost without a fleet, while French prizes were captured at the mouth of the Gironde. More programmes followed in 1871, 1879, 1881, 1891, and 1894, and they have only one characteristic in common-namely, that they have never been carried out. The programme of 1891 was intended to take effect in the decennial period 1892-1902, and aimed at the .construction of eighty-four chief units at a cost of 36,760,0001. In December 1894 the Conseil Supérieur de la Marine expressed a pious hope that the programme might at least be carried out by 1904, but in October 1895 Admiral Besnard had to inform the Budget Commission that the programme would only be completed in 1906, when it was hoped that the required twenty-four battleships would be ready. But Dieu dispose, and a month later Admiral Besnard was out of office and a 'new course’ in full swing.
When M. Lockroy succeeded at the Rue Royale it meant not merely a change of masters, but a change of mind. There are two so-called schools' of naval thought in France, the old school, generally omnipotent, the “ hereditary oligarchy of admirals' as they were once described, who would frame the naval policy of the country with a view to the needs of war against the Triple Alliance, working on wellconsidered and generally accepted lines, constructing battleships, cruisers, and smaller vessels in due proportion, and in the prevailing uncertainty as to the determining factor in the next naval war, refusing exaggerated importance to any particular class of vessel.
To the Jeune École, created by the late Admiral Aube and M.