Page:Problems of Empire.djvu/40
PROBLEMS OF EMPIRE.
de la Reveillère, in a recent article in the Marine Française, observes: 'La Jeune Ecole se trompe assurément sur la portée de ce genre de lutte quand elle s'imagine, avec quelques torpilleurs dans la Manche et quelques croiseurs très rapides, condamner l'Angleterre à périr d'inanition; mais ce n'en est point moins le vrai moyen de combattre.' In adopting the 'guerre de course' as the be-all and end-all of their policy, the naval strategists of the Jeune Ecole hardly pay sufficient regard to the teachings of history. The whole maritime energies of the French Republic after the battle of the 1st of June in 1794, and of the French Empire after the battle of Trafalgar, were directed to the subjugation of England through the destruction of her commerce. The command of the sea was not disputed. British fleets and British cruisers were, if possible, to be avoided. The first principle of naval warfare was sacrificed to an ulterior object.
Captain Mahan. Captain Mahan, in his recent work, has conclusively shown that, in thus acting, the French Government singularly failed to attain the object which they had in view. British commerce, indeed, suffered numerous losses at the hands of French ships and French privateers throughout the war, but its steady ebb and flow was never seriously affected by these means. The number of British merchant vessels captured during the twenty-one years 1798-1814 amounted to 11,000; the average number of ships entering and clearing the ports of Great Britain, exclusive of the coasting trade, amounted annually to over 21,000. From these and other considerations Captain Mahan draws the conclusion 'that the direct loss to the nation by the operation of hostile cruisers did not exceed