Page:Heresies of Sea Power (1906).djvu/346
HERESIES OF SEA POWER.
step. An evolved Royal Sovereign would have produced something very akin to the Dreadnought in quite a few years.
The idea, however, was not evolved for forty years. The Monarch and Captain, masted turret ships, were produced, and finally the Devastation, which was the original Monitor idealised to the full. No vessel so perfectly adapted to the battle conditions of the day had ever been conceived.
Meanwhile, everywhere the masted broadside battle-ship, the evolution of the old wooden ships, continued to be built. In some, as in the Sultan and the later Alexandra, two decks of guns were frankly adopted and probably only a change in fashion prevented three decks from coming in,1 once that the central box-battery of limited extent became the custom. The question as to whether it were better to build ships carrying a few of the heaviest available guns or ships carrying a larger number of lesser pieces was left quite undetermined by the construction of both types.
The principal naval powers of the period 1870-1880 were England, France, Turkey, Spain, Russia and to a mild extent Germany.
Of these France displayed the most originality. She never attempted any imitation of the British Devastation, but evolved a way of carrying the heaviest
1 The Alexandra, at the time she finished her career, was a three-decker, as 4-inch quick-firers were mounted above the double battery.