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   Chapter 1 THE FOURTH OF AUGUST, 1914

The History of Caliph Vathek By William Beckford Characters: 32108

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:03


Roman, Phoenician, Saxon, Dane,

From these white shores turned not again.

Save to the sea that bore them hence,

For their delight or their defense,

Judgment, persuasion, daring, thrift,

Each to the others lent his gift,

To whom, when all had shared, the sea

Added her own of admiralty.

It was early on the morning of July 20, 1914, that a couple of guests, who had courteously been invited to be present in the gunboat Niger for the King's inspection of the Fleet, made their way through the sleeping streets toward Portsmouth Dockyard. There were to be no manoeuvres this year since, as had already been announced in March, a test mobilization of the Third Fleet was to take their place. This Third Fleet consisted of the older ships of the navy, and depended for a large proportion of its personnel upon the Royal Fleet Reserve-a body of ex-naval seamen and other ratings, brought into being under Lord Goschen, and afterward strengthened and reorganized by the Selborne administration of 1902 onward. To man this fleet had necessitated the calling of about 10,000 seamen and 1,500 marines-all of them volunteers from civil life; and its assemblage at Spithead with the First and Second Fleets had secured, between the Hampshire coast and the Isle of Wight, the greatest exhibition of naval power that the world had then seen.

Since Wednesday, July 10th, the various units and squadrons had been gathering to their appointed stations, in some places eleven lines deep; while, upon the same occasion, and for the first time, there had been a full mobilization of the naval air forces. Less dramatic than the usual manoeuvres, and unaccompanied by any of the splendour that had attended most previous Royal reviews, this test mobilization-this bringing into being of the full fighting power of our naval reserves-was so valuable an exercise that, as Mr. Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty, had said in his announcement of it, it was a matter for some surprise that it had never before been undertaken. Nevertheless, as a national spectacle, it had attracted but little public attention, as the blinded windows and empty streets of Southsea and Portsmouth testified.

Grey as steel from vault to horizon but for a single wavering streak of blue, there seemed little prospect in the sky overhead of the fine day that the sailors had foretold; and nothing could have been more sombre than the early morning scene when, without ceremony and almost unnoticed, the Royal Yacht, with the King on board, left her berth in the Dockyard. Picking her course slowly past the Sally Port, so beloved by Marryat, she steamed through the choppy waters to her place at the head of the great fleet; and it was not until she reached Spithead, unsaluted by flag or gun, that the clouds up above began to break, and the sun to shine down on that floating city, now beginning briskly to awake to life.

Long before the little Niger, indeed, was herself out in the Solent, all the long lines were fully astir. Trim picket-boats, scattering spray, were plying up and down with mails and provisions. Cables were rattling till only a single anchor held each of the great ships in her proper position. Flags and semaphores were busy with final instructions. Veils of smoke began to wreathe in the air; and then, at the Admiral's signal, and with no other pageantry than that inherent in its own latent might, the vast assembly, with deliberate precision, began to get under way and out to sea.

Led by the Royal Yacht, the Victoria and Albert, her graceful black hull streaked with gold-preceded, according to custom, by the state vessel of the Elder Brethren of Trinity House-by the time the Iron Duke, at the head of the First Fleet's battleships, came abreast of the Nab Lightship, the Royal Yacht was already at anchor to receive the salutes of the departing navy. For two whole hours the King stood on the bridge, while ship after ship filed before him, each of the larger battleships an embodiment of greater strength than was represented by the whole fleet that had destroyed the Armada, and each of the battle-cruisers capable of a speed and striking-power that, a century before, would have seemed but the wildest of dreams. These were led by the Lion, flying the flag of a then comparatively unknown officer, Sir David Beatty, who, only the evening before, had received the honour of knighthood on board the Royal Yacht.

Following the Lion and her consorts came the light cruisers, and after these the destroyers and submarines, each of the latter submerging and rising to the surface again as she came abreast of the Victoria and Albert, while, to complete the picture, and to foreshadow the enormous development of aerial power in the years immediately to follow, each accompanying aeroplane and seaplane dipped in the air by way of salute.

So the Fleet passed out, great though it was, still only a portion of the total British sea forces, and producing scarcely a ripple upon the national attention, fixed on what seemed to it then a thousand more important matters. Had it been known that, as it then was, no eye would ever behold it again; that, in less than three weeks, stripped at its war stations, the fate of the world would visibly depend upon it-with what other eyes would the whole Empire have watched Spithead on that July morning! But, for the vast mass of Englishmen the world over, the incident passed without notice. Politically, the affairs of Ireland, the readjustment of the House of Lords, and the aspirations of Labour apparently held the field. For the anxious few, to whom the position in Europe seemed already ominously uneasy, it may have been otherwise. But none of them had publicly spoken; and it is now clear, with so sinister a rapidity did the events leading to war follow each other, that the test mobilization designed, not without criticism, to supercede the usual manoeuvres, was coincident with, rather than the outcome of, the hardening of the general diplomatic position.

That was on July 20, 1914, and, upon the political events that ensued, it would be quite impossible, in the present volume, to dwell for more than a moment or two. Very briefly, they succeeded one another as follows. On July 23d, the Austrian memorandum to Serbia, relative to the murder of the Archduke Ferdinand, the heir to the throne, by a Serbian anarchist at Sarajevo on June 28th, was formally submitted. So drastic were the terms of this that its warlike significance was immediately apparent to the whole of Europe: and a reply from Serbia was demanded in forty-eight hours. This was given within the specified time, all the Austrian demands being acceded to, with two exceptions. These were that Austrian representatives should collaborate with Serbia in the suppression of anti-Austrian agitation and also in the judicial proceedings that were demanded against all connected with the Serajevo murder.

The acceptance of these demands would, of course, have been tantamount to an admission by Serbia that she had ceased to be an independent nation. Nevertheless she was ready to refer them to the Hague Tribunal. The Austrian ambassador, however, acting on instructions from his Government, refused to accept anything but an unqualified assent, and left Belgrade on June 25th.

It was clear that, as regarded Serbia at any rate, Austria had determined upon war; but Sir Edward, afterward Viscount, Grey, then in charge of the British Foreign Office, took instant and most strenuous steps to prevent this. He first proposed a conference in London, in which Germany, France, and Italy should participate, to mediate in the issues between the two countries. To this Germany disagreed, stating that discussions were taking place between Austria and Russia, from which she had hopes of a successful issue. So fraught, however, was the whole European atmosphere with dark and immeasurable possibilities, that, in common with every other great Power, Great Britain had been obliged to take certain precautions; and, in the most immediately important of these, the navy was, of course, concerned.

Owing to the illness of his wife, Mr. Winston Churchill had left London for Cromer on the evening of July 24th-Prince Louis of Battenburg, afterward the Marquis of Milford Haven, being, as First Sea Lord, left in charge. About lunch time on Sunday, July 26th, the day after the Austrian Ambassador had left Belgrade, Mr. Churchill telephoned Prince Louis, and, in view of this serious development, told him to take what steps seemed to him advisable, at the same time informing him that he was returning to town that evening instead of on Monday, as he had originally designed.

In ordinary circumstances, the demobilization, following upon the naval exercises, was to have begun on this Monday morning. But Prince Louis, having made himself acquainted with all the telegrams received at the Foreign Office, had an order telegraphed to Admiral Sir George Callaghan, then Commander-in-Chief of the Home Fleets at Portland-the newest and most powerful units of which were afterward to form the nucleus of what was to become known as the Grand Fleet-to the effect that no ship was to leave anchorage until further orders, and that all vessels of the Second Fleet were to remain at their home ports near their balance crews. Throughout Monday, July 27th, by telegrams all over Europe to our various representatives, by interviews at home with foreign ambassadors in London, the British Foreign Office, under Sir Edward Grey, ceaselessly worked to avoid the impending collision, or, if that might not be averted, at least to limit its extent.

On Tuesday, July 28th, Austria declared war on Serbia, and, by the next day, was bombarding the Serbian capital. On this day, both Russia and Belgium were mobilizing their armies, Belgium as a precautionary measure of self-defense, and Russia, as regarded her southern armies only, on account of Austria's invasion of Serbia. It was early on Wednesday morning, July 29th, that the German Chancellor, then Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg, suggested to Sir Edward Goschen, our ambassador at Berlin, that if Britain remained neutral in the event of France joining Russia against an Austro-German combination, Germany would guarantee to make no territorial demands of France; would respect the neutrality of Holland; but might be forced to enter Belgium, whose integrity she would preserve, however, after the war. In respect of the French colonies, she would make no promises.

This meant the tearing up, of course, of the treaty, in which we as well as Germany had guaranteed Belgium's inviolability, and was an unmistakable index of the line of action that Germany was prepared to take, should it suit her purpose; and it was on this morning, unreported by the papers, and entirely unknown to the nation, that the First Fleet, under Sir George Callaghan, sailed out of Portland to its war-stations.

Peace was still possible, however, or so Sir Edward Grey hoped; and, while immediately rejecting, as he was in honour bound to do, Germany's proposal with regard to Belgium, he made the new suggestion of a European Council-a Council to which these problems, even at the eleventh hour, might be submitted to avert disaster. This plan was also destined to be fruitless. On July 31st, Germany sent a note to Russia demanding the instant dispersal of her armies, and requesting a favourable answer by eleven o'clock on Saturday, August 1st; and it was on the same day that Sir Edward Grey asked both Germany and France if they would guarantee the integrity of Belgium, always provided that this was not infringed by any other Power. To this France assented at once, but Germany made no reply.

Such was the position on Friday, and, on the Saturday afternoon, August 1st, Germany declared war on Russia, following this up, early on Sunday morning, with the invasion of Luxembourg by part of her advanced armies. This was the day on which the remainder of our naval reservists, including all naval and marine pensioners up to the age of fifty-five, were called to the colours-the plans for their mobilization, reception, and embarkment, in any such event as had now arisen, having been carefully prepared and co?rdinated with the preliminary steps required of all other Government Departments, and included in the War Book, compiled by the Committee of Imperial Defense, under the presidency of Mr. Asquith, then Prime Minister.

Simultaneously, or rather on the previous Saturday afternoon, an order to mobilize had been received at Dartmouth-the Royal Naval College in which, and in the Britannia before it, so many generations of officers had received their first training. Already, on the preceding Tuesday, the cadets had been summoned to the Quarter Deck, as the big recreation hall was called, and told by the Captain that, in the event of war, they would certainly be mobilized-the six "terms" into which the cadets were divided, being ordered to report in three groups at Chatham, Portsmouth, and Devonport, in this order of departure.

Of the thrill produced by this, anybody who has been a schoolboy of fifteen will have little difficulty in forming an idea; and it may be doubted if any of the boys who heard it-many of them, alas, never to see another birthday-will ever again live through such a moment as when the summons actually came on the following Saturday afternoon. It came with added force, because, since Tuesday, the excitement had naturally died down, while most of the boys, in common with their fathers, and indeed the majority of English men and women, had found it difficult to believe that so huge a convulsion would not in some manner be prevented. By what now seems, too, in retrospect, to have been almost the acme of ironical circumstance, they were due to start their holidays on August 4th, and to these their minds had already begun to turn again.

But the summons came, and with it in each boy, as hardly less in the college itself, the death of an era so instantaneous that it was only a little later that it could be realized. A moment before, and the normal Saturday afternoon life had been swinging along, as for so many years past-on the cricket field, in the swimming baths, in the Devonshire countryside surrounding the college; and the moment after, the cricket field was empty, with the stumps still standing there undrawn, and the lanes and river banks were being everywhere searched for such boys as were not in college. Long before nightfall half the cadets-scarcely more than children-had left the place forever; and it was not until then that the sense of what lay before them fell upon the officers and masters left behind. For a little while this was almost intolerable, and the more so because it would have seemed indecent to them to put it into words. Characteristically enough, perhaps-most of them being products of the same kind of system that had produced the boys-it was finally decided, dusk though it was, and tired as they were, to turn out the beagles.

By the evening of August 3d, therefore, August Bank Holiday, and a day of serene and cloudless beauty, the Admiralty was able to announce that the entire navy had been placed upon a war footing, the mobilization having been completed in all respects by 4 o'clock in the morning. This was the position when, in a House of Commons charged with emotions tenser than any man remembered, Sir Edward Grey rose to explain the situation and the attitude of the Government, for which he desired the country's mandate. Beginning by assuring the House that the Government and himself had worked "with all the earnestness in our power to preserve peace," he went on to deal with the British obligations toward her friends in the Entente-making it clear that the country was not bound, by any secret treaty, to provide armed assistance. That was but a small matter, however, and what had to be determined was our moral position in the circums

tances that had arisen.

Dealing first with naval matters, Sir Edward Grey pointed out that, the French Fleet being in the Mediterranean, her northern and western coasts-a tribute to her confidence in ourselves-were left absolutely unprotected; while, in the Mediterranean, should the French Fleet have to be withdrawn for vital purposes elsewhere, we ourselves had not then a fleet strong enough to meet all possible hostile combinations. Under those conditions, and with a German declaration of war upon her probably the question of a few hours, it had obviously been our bounden duty to make our position clear toward France; and this had been done on the previous afternoon. Subject to the support of Parliament, the British Government had promised that, if the German Fleet should come into the Channel, or through the North Sea, to undertake hostile operations against the French coast or shipping, the British Fleet would give to the French all the protection in its power. Just before coming to the House, Sir Edward Grey added, he had learned that, if we would pledge ourselves to neutrality, Germany would be prepared to agree that its fleet should not attack the northern coast of France. But that, as he said, was a far too narrow engagement.

Even more vital, however, was the question of Belgium's integrity, not only to France and ourselves, but to the whole basis upon which the relations of all civilized Powers had come to rest. In connection with this, Sir Edward Grey told the House that a personal telegram had just been received by the King, in which the King of Belgium had made a supreme appeal for the diplomatic intervention of Great Britain. Should Belgium be compelled, Sir Edward Grey pointed out, to compromise her neutrality by allowing the passage of foreign troops, whatever might ultimately happen to her, her independence would have gone. To stand by and see that would, in his opinion-and this was overwhelmingly endorsed both by the House and the country-be "to sacrifice our respect and good sense and reputation before the world."

On the same day, Germany declared war on France, and, on Tuesday, August 4th, Great Britain asked for a definite assurance from Germany that Belgium's refusal to allow the passage of troops through her territory should be respected. An answer was desired before midnight, but the only German reply was to present our ambassador with his passports, and, before the day ended, Great Britain was at war not only for her life but for the life of civilization.

And now, as regarded the navy, there occurred a little incident, not without an element in it of the deepest pathos, but demonstrating, at the outset, that one at least of our great naval traditions shone as brightly as ever. For eight years-longer than any other living admiral-Sir George Callaghan had been afloat in various responsible commands; and, in 1911, he had become Commander-in-Chief of the Home Fleet. Its efficiency as an instrument was due in no small measure to his personal thoroughness and enthusiasm; and the mingled feelings of pride, confidence, and anxiety, with which he had led it to its war stations, can readily be imagined. At last he was to see in action, under his very eyes, that splendid weapon, for which he had so long been responsible. But it was not to be. Just as in most recent naval campaigns conducted by other countries, it had been considered advisable for the leader in war to have come fresh from staff work at headquarters, so it had been felt in England that the admiral commanding the Fleet in action must be not only a sea-officer of high standing, but one with a more intimate knowledge of the general strategical position than it had been possible for an officer so long afloat to acquire. It was for such reasons that Admiral Sampson had been placed in charge of the American Fleet in the Spanish-American War, and Admiral Togo by the Japanese Government in the Japanese War with Russia, and, for similar considerations, it had been decided to appoint Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, still young as admirals went, to the command of the Grand Fleet.

As a former Director of Ordnance and Torpedoes, and thus familiar with every branch of munitionment; as a former Third Sea Lord in control of ship-building and equipment; and, as Second Sea Lord, responsible not only for personnel but familiar, as Deputy for the First Sea Lord, with all questions of strategy, Admiral Jellicoe, apart from his personal qualities, had had unique opportunities of studying the whole naval problem from every possible standpoint. He had proved himself in addition, during naval manoeuvres, a tactical leader of the highest order; and he was already due, later in the year, to succeed Sir George Callaghan in command of the Home Fleets. It was therefore decided-not without considerable personal reluctance on the part of Admiral Jellicoe himself-that he should at once replace Sir George Callaghan on board the fleet-flagship Iron Duke; and nothing could have been more typical of naval esprit de corps and the subservience of even the most illustrious officer to the interests of the whole service than that this incident took place without a trace of bitterness or the slightest personal jealousy. Even so, five years after Trafalgar, having never been allowed to set foot again on English soil, Collingwood had died in his cabin, content that in his long sea-exile he had served his country; and even so, having carried upon his shoulders perhaps the heaviest individual responsibilities of the war, Jellicoe himself, at the end of 1917, walked quietly out of the Admiralty to hang pictures at home.

Born on December 5, 1859, Sir John Jellicoe was in his fifty-fifth year when he stepped on board the Iron Duke as admiralissimo of the Grand Fleet. The son of a well-known captain in the mercantile marine, who lived long enough, as it is pleasant to remember, to witness his son's success, he was also related ancestrally to that Admiral Patton, who had been Second Sea Lord at the time of Trafalgar; while, in Lady Jellicoe, daughter of the late Sir Charles Cayzer, one of the Directors of the Clan Line of Steamships, he had formed, on his marriage, yet further connections with the sea. After a few years at a private school at Rottingdean, he had entered the Britannia as a cadet in 1872, and, from the first, seems without effort to have made the fullest use of his opportunities.

Passing out of the Britannia, the head of his year, with every possible prize that could be taken, he had qualified-again with three first prizes-as sub-lieutenant in 1878, being appointed a full lieutenant three years later, with three first-class certificates. Two years after this, he had taken part in the Egyptian campaign, obtaining the silver medal for the expedition, and also the Khedive's Bronze Star. Returning to Greenwich for a course in gunnery, he had obtained the £80 prize for gunnery lieutenants, and, soon afterward, had been appointed a Junior Staff Officer at the Excellent School of Gunnery at Portsmouth; and it was here that he had come into contact, and begun a lifelong friendship, with the greatest naval genius of modern times, then plain Captain Fisher, and scarcely known outside the service.

It was while still a lieutenant that, in 1886, he had received the Board of Trade Medal for gallantry in a forlorn attempt-during which he was himself shipwrecked-to save a stranded crew near Gibraltar. Becoming a commander in 1891, he had been appointed to Sir George Tryon's flagship, the ill-fated Victoria, afterward to be sunk during manoeuvres-Commander Jellicoe himself, ill in his cabin at the moment, having the narrowest escape from drowning. Six years later, he had become a captain, joining Sir Edward Seymour's flagship, the Centurion, on the China Station; and it was in China that, three years afterward, he had seen his next active service during the Boxer Rebellion. In this he had been Chief Staff Officer to Sir Edward Seymour, who commanded the Naval Brigade; and, at the Battle of Pietsang, on June 21, 1900, he had been very severely wounded. Happily he had recovered, receiving for his services the Companionship of the Bath, and, four years later, had found himself at the Admiralty as Director of Naval Ordnance-a position that he had held during the revolution produced by the appearance of the first British dreadnought. He had also been largely responsible for the immense improvement in our gunnery, associated with the name of Admiral Sir Percy Scott. In 1907 Captain Jellicoe had been promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral, being appointed to a command in the Atlantic Fleet a little later in the same year. In 1908 he had become one of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty and Controller of the Navy, and, two years afterward, he had reached the vice-admirals' list and had succeeded to the command of the Atlantic Fleet. In 1911, having already been made a K.C.V.O., he had been honoured with a K.C.B. at the coronation of King George V, and, in 1912, after a short spell of service in command of the Second Battle Squadron of the Home Fleet, he had become Second Sea Lord, the position he was holding on the outbreak of war.

Such were the qualifications of the man in whose hands, on that fateful fourth of August, rested more heavily than in those of any other the destiny of our empire and of mankind. Had they proved inadequate, it is no exaggeration to say that the sun of freedom would have set for both. That they were not so is common knowledge, and the fullest justification of those who had believed in them-chief among whom was that masterful administrator, who had changed the whole aspect of our naval strategy.

Rugged of face, with hosts of detractors, and, at this time, well over seventy years of age; a prey to moods, with some defects of his qualities, and a mind too often intolerant of the weaknesses of others, it was to Lord Fisher of Kilverstone, more than to any single living man, that the navy of August 4th owed its strength. Lacking the hereditary sea-influences so strong in Sir John Jellicoe, and with none of the powerful encouragement that he himself had bestowed upon the younger admiral, Lord Fisher had risen to power by sheer mental ability united with an extraordinary force of character; although full credit must be given to Mr. Balfour who, as Prime Minister in 1902, gave Sir John Fisher, as he then was, the fullest scope for his genius.

These had included changes so radical and far-reaching, in almost every branch of naval administration, that it would be impossible here to recapitulate them; and they are already familiar to most people. Briefly, they had amounted, first, to a drastic redistribution of our whole naval forces, including the partial absorption of the Mediterranean Fleet, hitherto our strongest command, into an enormously powerful force in the home seas always ready for war; the disestablishment of overseas squadrons of no strategical importance; the remorseless scrapping of many old ships that were doing little else than eating up money; and the reduction of distant dockyards that had long ceased to have any potential significance. Hand in hand with all this, a revision of the entire system of naval education had been undertaken; the Royal Fleet Reserve had been strengthened by the inclusion of a number of seamen who had had five or more years' training; and from these were to be drawn the balance crews that, in time of war, were to bring the vessels of the Second Fleet up to their full complement.

It had further become clear, both from the lessons learned in the naval actions between Russia and Japan, and in the strong bid for an overpowering fleet then being made by Germany, that new developments in the matter of design were a problem of the most serious urgency. It had accordingly been decided to replace the very large number of differing vessels, of which the navy then consisted, by a few definite classes, each designed to fulfil in war some clearly thought-out tactical purpose; and, at the same time, in absolute secrecy, the first of the great British dreadnoughts had been laid down.

This had not only compelled an immediate response in every navy throughout the world, but had once more secured for us the margin of vital security that had seriously been encroached upon before these reforms were initiated. That in spite of changes of Government and the natural reluctance of the nation, in view of social necessities, to increase its naval expenditure, Lord Fisher had succeeded in carrying through his programme, was the best evidence of his strength; and men of all parties had become increasingly united in endorsing the general wisdom of his attitude.

So swift, even since then, however, had been the advance in naval construction that, when Sir John Jellicoe stepped on board the Iron Duke, the first of the dreadnoughts was almost obsolete. Itself since outstripped by the ships of the Queen Elizabeth class, when war was declared on August 4th, the Iron Duke, as regarded battleships, was perhaps the flower of the British Navy. In full commission displacing 27,000 tons, and costing more than £2,000,000 to build, she had attained on trial, in spite of her enormous armament, a speed of no less than 22 knots. Each of her large guns, of which she carried ten, so arranged as to be able to fire on each broadside, was capable of hurling a shell from twenty to twenty-five miles, during which it would rise far higher than Mont Blanc; and, besides these, she had a dozen 6-inch guns with which to repel possible destroyer attacks. Her armour at the water-line was twelve inches thick; she was fitted with four submerged torpedo-tubes, and carried on board three thousand tons of fuel and a complement of over a thousand officers and men.

No less powerful, though not so heavily armoured, and capable of a speed when pressed, of about thirty knots an hour, was the Lion, the flagship of the battle-cruisers, of whom Sir David Beatty was in command. She, too, carried ten 13.5-inch guns, with sixteen smaller quick-firing guns, and two submerged torpedo-tubes. Typical of yet another class was the since famous Arethusa flying the pennant of Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt, as he then was-a light armoured cruiser, or, in Mr. Churchill's phrase, "a destroyer of destroyers," displacing a little less than 4,000 tons, but capable of a speed, when pressed, approaching forty knots. Lastly should be mentioned the L class, then the latest of our destroyers, consuming oil fuel only-those antenn? of the Fleet, as fast as an express train, and the very incarnation of vigilance and daring.

Such then was the navy in which on August 3d, speaking in that breathless House of Commons, Sir Edward Grey had said that those responsible for it had the completest confidence. To it had been added, on the outbreak of war, a couple of battleships that had just been completed for Turkey and two destroyer-leaders, built for Chile, that had been purchased from her by arrangement. As the child of the cockle-ships that Alfred had beaten the Danes with, that had won the Battle of Sluys for Edward III; as the offspring of the fleets of Drake or even of Nelson, its least unit would have defied belief. But it was of the same family, legitimately descended, and with the old names scattered amongst its children. Bellerophon, St. George, Téméraire, its history was implicit in its roll call; while the dead animals stood re-invoked upon the prows that bore their legends. Collingwood, Benbow, St. Vincent; Albemarle, Cochrane, Hawke-they were at war for England if only as words. But did they live again in the men that hailed them? Well, the nation believed so, and, in that dark hour, this was the sheet-anchor of its hope. In the words of the King to Sir John Jellicoe, it sent them the full assurance of its confidence that they would "prove once again the true shield of Britain and of her Empire in the hour of trial."

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