Page:EB1911 - Volume 24.djvu/583

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SEA-POWER


their squadron was permanently hired to the kings of Spain.” Spanish supremacy at sea was established at the expense of France (G. W. Prothero, in M. Hume's Spain 1479-1788, p. 65). The acquisition of a vast domain in the New World had greatly developed the maritime activity of Castile, and Spain was as formidable on theocean as in the Mediterranean. After Portugal had been annexed the naval forces of that country were added to the Spanish, and the great port of Lisbon became available as a place of equipment and as an additional base of operations for oceanic campaigns. The fusion of Spain and Portugal, says Seeley, “produced a single State of unlimited maritime dominion .... Henceforth the whole New World belonged exclusively to Spain.” The story of the tremendous catastrophe-the defeatof the Armada-by which the decline of this dominion was heralded is well known. It is memorable, not only because of the harm it did to Spain, but also because it revealed the rise of another claimant to maritime pre-eminence -the English nation. The effects of the catastrophe werenot at once visible. Spain still continued to look like the greatest power in the world; and, though the English seamen were seen to be something better than adventurous pirates-a character suggested by some of their contemporary exploits-few could have comprehended that they were engaged in building up what was to be a sea-power greater than any known to history. They were carrying forward, not beginning, the building of this. “ England, ” says Sir ]. K. Laughton, “ had always Barb, believed in her naval power, had always claimed ”, s¢, ,. the sovereignty of the Narrow Seas; and more than tions of two hundred years before Elizabeth came to the iffggwer throne, Edward III. had testified to his sense of its importance by ordering a gold coinage bearing a device showing the armed strength and sovereignty of England based on the sea ” (Armada, Introd.). It is impossible to make intelligible the course of the many wars which the English waged with the French in the middle ages unless the true naval position of the former is rightly appreciated. Why were Crégy, Poitiers, Agincourt-not to mention other combats-fought, not on English, but on continental soil? Why, during the so-called “ Hundred Years' War, ” was England in reality the invader and not the invaded? We of the present generation are at last aware of the significance of naval defence, and know that, if properly utilized, it is the best security against invasion that a sea-surrounded state can enjoy. It is not, however, commonly remembered that the same condition of security existed and was properly valued in medieval times. The battle of Sluys in 1340 rendered invasion of England as impracticable as did that of La Hogue in 1692, that of Quibéron Bay in 1759 and that of Trafalgar in 1805; and it permitted, as did those battles, the transport of troops to the continent to support Great Britain's allies in wars which, had she not been strong at sea, would have been waged on the soil of her country. Her early continental wars, therefore, are proofs of the long-established efficiency of her naval defences. Notwithstanding the greater attention now paid to naval affairs, it is doubtful if Great Britain even yet recognizes the extent to which her security depends upon a good fleet as fully as her ancestors did seven centuries ago. The narrative of pre-Elizabethan campaigns is interesting merely as a story; and, when told-as, for instance, D. Hannay has told it in the introductory chapters of his Short History of the Royal N avy-it will be found instructive and worthy of careful study at the present day. Each of the principal events in England's early naval campaigns may be taken as an illustration of the idea conveyed by the term “ sea-power, ” and of the accuracy with which its meaning was apprehended at the time. To take a very early case, we may cite the defeat of Eustace the Monk (see Dovnnz Battle of) by Hubert de Burgh in IZ17. Reinforcements and supplies had been collected at Calais for conveyance to the army of Prince Louis of France and the rebel barons who had been defeated at Lincoln. The reinforcements tried to cross the Channel under the escort of a lieet commanded by Eustace. Hubert de Burgh, who had stoutly held Dover for King John, and was faithful to the young Henry III., heard of the enemy's movements. “ If these people land, ” said he, “ England is lost; let us therefore boldly meet them.” He reasoned in almost the same words as Raleigh about four centuries afterwards, and undoubtedly “ had grasped the true principles of the defence of England. ” He put to sea. and defeated his opponent. The fleet on which Prince Louis and the rebellious barons had counted was destroyed; and withgit their enterprise. “ No more admirably planned, no more fruitful battle has been fought by Englishmen on water ” (Hannay, p. 7). As introductory to a long series of naval operations undertaken with a like object it has deserved detailed mention here.

The 16th century was marked by a decided advance in both the development and the application of sea-power. Previously its operation had been confined to the Mediterranean Extend, ” or to coast waters outside it. Spanish or Basque sphere of seamen-by their proceedings in the English Channel- Sea had proved the practicability of, rather than been power engaged in, ocean warfare. The English, who withstood them, were accustomed to seas so rough, to seasons so uncertain and to weather so boisterous, that the ocean had few terrors for them. All that was wanting was a sufficient inducement to seek distant fields of action and a development of the naval art that would permit them to be reached. The discovery of the New World supplied the first; and consequently increased length of voyages and of absence from the coast led to the second. The world had been moving onwards in other things as well as in navigation. Intercommunication was becoming more and more frequent. What was done by one people was soon known to others. It is a mistake to suppose that, because the English had been behindhand in the exploration of remote regions, they were wanting in maritime enterprise. The career of the Cabots would of itself suliice to render such a supposition doubtful. The English had two good reasons for postponing voyages to and settlement in far-off lands. They had their hands full nearer home; and they thoroughly, and as it were by instinct, understood the conditions on which permanent expansion must rest. They wanted to make sure of the line of communications first. To effect this a sea-going marine of both war and commerce, and, for further expansion, stations on the way were essential. The chart of the world furnishes evidence of the wisdom and the thoroughness of their procedure. Taught by the experience of the Spaniards and the Portuguese, when unimpeded by the political circumstances of the time, and provided with suitable equipment, the English displayed their energy in distant seas. It now became simply a question of the efficiency of sea-power. If efficiency was not a quality of the English sea-power, then their efforts were bound to fail; and, more than this, the position of their country, challenging as it did what was believed to be the greatest of maritime states, would have been altogether precarious. The principal expeditions now undertaken were distinguished by a characteristic peculiar to the people, and not to be found in connexion with the exploring or colonizing activity of most other great nations even down to our own time. They were really unofficial speculations in which, if the government took part at all, it was for the sake of the profit expected, and almost, if not exactly, like any private adventurer. The participation of the government, nevertheless, had an aspect which it is worth while to note. It conveyed a hint-and quite consciously-to all whom it might concern that the speculations were “ under-written ” by the whole sea-power of England. The forces of more than one state had been used to protect its maritime trade from the assaults of enemies in the Mediterranean or in the Narrow Seas. They had been used to ward off invasion and to keep open communications across not very extensive areas of water. In the 16th century they were first relied upon to support distant commerce, whether carried on in a peaceful fashion or under aggressive forms. This, naturally enough, led to collisions. The contention waxed hot, and was virtually decided when the Armada shaped course to the northward after the fight off Gravelines.-The

expeditions against the Spanish Indies and, still more,

those against Philip II.'s peninsular territory had helped to define