« ForrigeFortsett »
rum, jam and marmalade, extract of meat, bovril, Brand's essence, brandy, calf's-foot jelly, champagne, claret, roast fowl, port wine, condensed milk, soups, sparklets, stout, whisky, carbolic acid, chloride of lime, disinfecting powder, izal, alum, tobacco, tin-opening knives. While the total weight of these bas exceeded, exclusive of the forage, 80,000,000 pounds, some estimate may be formed of the difficulties of package, examination, and transport, from the fact that they included 622,000 bottles of different kinds. The preserved meat alone from home and foreign ports weighed 20,500,000 pounds, the jam and marmalade 10,000,000 pounds, the biscuit 27,000,000 pounds, tobacco 1,500,000 pounds. The forage—hay, oats, bran, compressed foragesent in addition to the above bas weighed nearly 79,000 tons from English ports and 154,000 tons from foreign and colonial ports.
Instead of the one 'siege train' which seemed indispensable to General Schmeling, we have sent two powerful armaments of that kind. The Boers have found it prudent not to allow our siege-guns to try the strength of the fortifications on which for years, under the advice of the best European engineers, they have been expending large sums raised in the main from the taxation of the vast wealth of the Uitlanders. Like Captain Cuttle's coon, as soon as these works, which have so much impressed General von Schmeling's imagination, have been exposed to danger from our siege artillery they have cried at once, "Don't shoot, Captain, I'll come down.' Meantime our ignorant and contemptible officers, from Baden-Powell downwards, everywhere, where they have thrown themselves into undefended places, all the temporary fortifications of which they have had to construct on their own best judgement, have held out against that overwhelming and superior artillery of the Boers of which we have heard 80 much. That introduces the other side of General Schmeling's charges. Hitherto we have been dealing with specific facts about which there can be no dispute. The war has not in any sense whatever taken the course which General von Schmeling predicted for it. The things which he said would prove impossible for us have been done. The resources which he said did not exist and could not be transported have been delivered in the field. They have, so far at least as concerns the administrative departments in the field-transport and supply for ammunition and food, engineering work, and more especially railway work-been admittedly admirably handled. Perhaps it is now hardly too much to appeal to a man of General von Schmeling's experience and inquire whether these vast resources could have been organised, collected, and regularly despatched, partly from home, partly from all parts of the habitable globe, if there had existed that complete want of competent officers which he supposes to exist among us. The appeal in his case is more likely to be effective than in that of some of our critics nearer home, who do not understand as well as he does the difficulties of the task that has been surmounted. We are very far from wishing to be hard upon him himself, but, as he has pointed out how severe and strict is the German system as compared with our own, there is one point in ours to which it may be well to draw his attention. We too have, with such facilities as have hitherto been granted us in the way of working over ground and other matters, practical and theoretical tests applied before an officer is allowed to be promoted from rank to rank. The German staff system is perhaps rather more than our own based upon a display of an officer's competence in the matter of practical studies produced in the form of essays, appreciations of a situation and the like. Most of our examinations require the use of troops on ground, but we do employ the essay test, or something like it, more especially for staff officers. Speaking from some knowledge of these tests we can say unhesitatingly that if an officer of any rank in our army so completely failed to diagnose an assigned problem as General von Schmeling has done he would be in a perilous position. He has failed adequately to collect his evidence. He has gone to wrong sources for his information. He has applied to his work the severe test of the fulfilment of prediction dependent on the accuracy of his facts and the correctness of his reasoning from them, and the test condemns him.
Having said so much, and with such an example before us, we may freely admit that we have not succeeded in eliminating during peace time possible errors of human judgement during war. General von Schmeling is, no doubt, much too close a student of the Franco-German War of 1870 not to be as well aware as we are that that very perfect organisation which von Moltke created did not succeed in eliminating such errors either in the higher or the lower ranks. It is a dream which has arisen in Germany during thirty years of peace that it is possible to secure that result by selections made in peace time. The British army, which during those
years has been fighting at least thirty several wars of more or less gravity and under every variety of conditions, has no such delusions. At this moment we have on our hands three struggles, each involving different conditions—those of China, South Africa, and Ashanti.
Within the year we have had a fourth, quite unlike any of the others that which the Sirdar, now in England, Sir F. Wingate, brought to a triumphant conclusion by the capture of the Khalifa. We do not put this forward as merely and only an advantage which the British army possesses over the German. There are two sides to it. It is quite certain that we have an enormously larger body of officers than they have to whom the conditions of rough campaigning, the looking after their men in the field, and the general organisation for food and ammunition supply under the rough circumstances of field work, not to mention shot and shell fired in anger, are familiar. The very existence of this factor is ignored by General von Schmeling, as is the considerable body of non-commissioned officers and men of similar experience whom we have, and of whom they have hardly one. On the other hand, there is truth in Trochu's saying that it is peace time that makes armies and war that injures them. Our own army, which perhaps more than most learns only by experience, is apt, in every war into which it enters, to have to unlearn much of its war experience of the past before it can adapt itself to the new circumstances. Moreover, it is apt to have to unlearn much peace training which has been based upon recent experience in fighting wholly unadapted to the novel conditions with which it has to deal. We, from some knowledge of it under varied conditions, firmly believe that, despite these disadvantages, it is one of the most, if not the most, adaptable armies in the world when the facts are fairly and squarely before it. One lesson, perhaps, the Germans have yet to teach us—namely, how best to profit by our mistakes when the war is over. They have, however, a far simpler task than we have. Always for them it is European war for which they have to prepare. With us each year we meet with a new experience, often three or four times a year, as now, with three or four different experiences. Moreover, it cannot be denied that a military despotism presents naturally many advantages for the one purpose of creating an effective military machine. It certainly would be unendurable by any people so intelligent as the Germans if it were not so, We are dependent for
our efficiency on the passing whims of a nation which during years of peace time cannot understand the necessities of warlike preparation, and with the utmost patriotism opposes from not understanding them the men who are doing it the best service. Then, when war breaks out, it is terribly apt to fall under the influence of those who pander to its momentary impressions and unscrupulously feed it with direct misstatements of fact. The very want of training--from which it is true that many of our officers suffer—is due to the refusal during long years to grant our army those facilities which were necessary and were denied to the passionate demands of successive generations of soldiers—not because, if the nation had understood the case, these demands would not have been readily granted, but because the subject did not interest the mass of those whose votes determined the issue, and they had, therefore, never read what was written or known what was wanted. Under a system of party government such a condition of things determines the question. It is, so far as our observation goes, precisely those who have used every influence they possessed, and some of them very great influence, to oppose, contemn, and resist every proposal that was made to increase the efficiency of our army, who now most bitterly complain that their actions have produced their natural result. So much we may concede to our German critic. But we have faith in the sound sense of the English people, and we believe that the truth, if it be honestly put before them, will be listened to. We have faith that the nation at large will realise that it, too, has to learn from the mistakes of the past, and will set its house in order
ART. XII.--1. An Essay on the Government of Dependencies.
By Sir GEORGE CORNEWALL LEWIS, K.C.B. (originally published in 1841). Edited with an introduction by C. P. Lucas, of the Colonial Office. Clarendon Press,
Oxford : 1891. 2. A Bill to Constitute the Commonwealth of Australia. 8. Publications of the Imperial Federation (Defence) Committee.
Westminster : 1900. 4. Speech of the Right Hon. Joseph Chamberlain, M.P., in the
House of Commons, April 3, 1900. M ORE than ten years ago we called the attention of our
readers to the gradual change of sentiment and opinion that had grown up in the preceding quarter of a century as to the relations between Great Britain and her great selfgoverning colonies.* It is not the case that our principal statesmen or party leaders on either side of politics ever seriously advocated the complete separation of the colonies from the Mother Country, though here and there some chance expression of a sense of weariness at the never-ceasing troubles in Downing Street inay have seemed to point in that direction. It cannot be denied, however, that among the eminent men who were the ornaments of the Manchester school there was little appreciation of the greatness of the British Empire, as apart from its material prosperity, good government, and well-being; and were they among us to-day they would hardly share that enthusiasm for the National Flag, the most powerful political sentiment, which now inspires British democracy all over the world.
We are not quite sure that any British statesman ever deserved the name of Little Englander, convenient as the expression may be for the purposes of electioneering controversy; but we are certain that it was never applicable to the Liberal party as a whole, nor indeed to any of the great men who have led it. It has been too much the fashion of late to identify the politics of “a school' which did in its own way splendid service to the country with the general principles of a great party in which it was never more than a minority. If not held, however, among practical statesmen of the first rank, the view of the too burdensome nature of the connexion between England and
Edinburgh Review, April 1890, Confederation or Independence.'