Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

strong manly thought of Aristotle, his great knowledge of human nature, his analytic penetration, exhaustive classification, and clear methods of disentangling a question and dealing with what is essential in it-render the works of Aristotle, especially some among them, an admirable instrument of cultivation, and a sort of preparation for almost all positions in life. The full benefits of this study cannot perhaps be reaped except by Greek scholars. And yet some of the greatest minds of modern Europe, as for instance Dante, have been moulded upon the study of Aristotle in the Latin version. And if in Latin, we may say why not in English, as the English language is fully more capable than Latin of conveying all that is finest and most subtle in Greek? But the instrument for conveying Aristotle in English has yet to be forged. How to set about translating him involves many difficult questions at the outset. How are we to deal with his peculiar phraseology, with terms like εντελέχεια, το τί ήν είναι, and so on ? Are we to resort to perpetual circumlocution and paraphrase whenever these terms occur, or are we to fix on some, probably quite un-English, representatives of them, to be used mechanically, the reader being left to supply the associations required? In either mode of proceeding there are difficulties, and even if these were got over, there are others equally great to be encountered in any attempt to translate Aristotle faithfully into literary and readable English. In the meantime, there remains to do for all the other treatises of Aristotle what Grote has so courageously essayed to do for the · Organon,' namely, to give an account of their contents. Such an account should primarily give us, as near as may be, the unadulterated thoughts of Aristotle, in relation to his own mind and the systems of his predecessors. Secondarily, it should compare such thoughts, where philosophical, with the philosophy of modern times, and where scientific, with modern science. The study of an ancient philosopher may be regarded as a study of history, or as a study of method, and from either point of view it is of great value; but in relation to the questions treated, it is a study of truth, and from this point of view it is desirable that philosophy should always be brought up to date.'

table Ens to trane others le difficulations ;

the othe to do for theh an accounted thought his prede

ART. IX.-1. L'Art des Armées navales; ou, Traité des

Evolutions navales. Par le P. Paul HOSTE, de la Compagnie de Jésus, Professeur des Mathématiques dans le

Séminaire royal de Toulon. Fol. Lyon : 1697. 2. Tactique navale. Par le Vicomte DE MOROGUES. 4to.

1763. 3. Rudimentos de Tactica naval. Por Don JOSEF DE

MAZAREDO SALAZAR. 4to. Madrid : 1786. 4. Naval Tactics. By M. DE MOROGUES. Translated by a

Sea-officer. 4to. London: 1787. 5. An Essay on Naval Tactics, Systematical and Historical.

By John CLERK, Esq., of Eldin. 4to. Edinburgh :

1804. 6. Corso elementare di Tattica navale. Di AUDIBERT

RAMATUELLE. 4to. Napoli: 1813. 7. Essai sur l'Histoire de la Tactique navale. Par Ch. ER.

LULLIER. 8vo. Paris : 1867. 8. Nouvelles Bases de Tactique navale. Par l'Amiral

GRÉGOIRE BOUTAKOV. Traduites du Russe par H. de la

PLANCHE, Lieutenant de vaisseau. 8vo. Paris. 9. Steam Rams: their Primary Elements and Proper Func

tions. By DUNCAN CAMPBELL of Asknish. 12mo. 1870. 10. The Attack and Defence of Fleets. By Capt. P. H.

COLOMB, R.N., Journal of the Royal United Service

Institution. 1872. 11. A Treatise on Naval Warfare with Steam. By General

Sir HOWARD DOUGLAS. 8vo. London : 1858. LIKE several of the mechanical arts, so the art of naval e tactics would seem to have passed through the various stages of elaboration, oblivion, and revival. Perhaps, indeed, it would be more correct to say that it is only entering upon the third and last of these. There appears to be a pretty unanimous agreement on the part of all those who have of late made naval tactics a subject of study, that the art has, in its revived form, scarcely advanced beyond the merest rudimentary conditions of existence. It is impossible not to be struck by the strange singularity of such a fact, if fact it be. In an age in which the greatest scientific skill and mechanical ingenuity have been unreservedly exerted in perfecting the warlike efficiency of the military marine, the one art needed to

lected as british naer been a fajews.

amon preme eminenceriselves of startem to a position

develope to its fullest extent that truly wonderful efficiency has been strangely neglected and overlooked. The great tactical revolution caused by the introduction of steampropulsion has been either quietly ignored, or its extreme significance has been left to be pointed out by a small company of prophets who have not as yet succeeded in gaining more than a partial hearing for the statement of their views.

The scientific study of tactics has never been a favourite occupation of seamen. In the British navy especially it has been not so much neglected as despised. In that service no tactical maxim has ever been held in so much honour as the simple phrase which asked only for 'a fair field and no • favour. Plenty of sea-room and a willing enemy' was a formula which adequately expressed the aspirations of a body of men strong in the confidence of their superior seamanship and of their undoubted valour and endurance. Yet-even amongst them-tactical knowledge was the one path which led to supreme eminence. Rodney and Nelson are instances of men who availed themselves of startling tactical innovations to perform deeds which have carried them to a position of almost unapproachable superiority as naval commanders. Nor are they the only ones, nor is our own the only service in which such men have been found. It will not be difficult to show that the existence of men whose careers resemble theirs has been confined to no single country and to no single age.

In naval warfare it has been the same as in land-warfarethe whole history of the art has been divided into great tactical epochs or periods ushered in, more or less directly, by some great tactical discovery. Such discoveries have been not only of new arrangements and manæuvres, but of improved weapons, of improved defensive armour, or of some improved motive power. When the Tyrrhenian Pisæus added the sharp beak to the prow of the ancient galley, he introduced a reform of greater tactical import than the oft-quoted invention of iron ramrods by the Old Dessauer, or of the needle-gun by Herr Dreyse. As the Pyrrhic phalanx succumbed to the more open array and lighter weapons of the Roman legion, and the Swiss hérisson to the short swords and closer fighting of Gonsalvo's infantry, so the old line-of-battle was pierced and broken by the new tactics which Paul Hoste the Jesuit and Clerk of Eldin taught, and which Rodney and Nelson so gloriously put into practice. We believe it will be interesting and not without advantage to trace the history of naval tactics from an early period to the present day; to show how frequently the greatest valour and, in many respects, the most

and ously put into ntaught, and which Paul Hoste

consummate skill, failed to achieve any real success from want of true tactical knowledge; how much of the glory of the British navy, before the time of Rodney, rested upon the insecure foundation of indecisive actions and barren victories; and how strangely near the most ancient tactics of which we have any knowledge approached to those which, it seems not improbable, steam propulsion will in the future compel seamen to adopt.

The scantiness of the literature of the subject may be taken as no slight proof of the small attention which, as a rule throughout its history, it has attracted. That history is a long one, too. For the record of some of the most striking maneuvres and formations known to naval warfare, maneuvres and formations adopted in obedience to an almost pedantically exact system of tactics, and by no means unworthy of being studied even now, we must search the pages of the Father of History. Without going back to that shadowy time

“When Argo saw her kindred trees

Descend from Pelion to the main,' we may still, at very remote periods, find instances of the adoption of various tactical systems which, it is no exaggeration to declare, are of far more use and value to the naval officer of our own time in his search after right methods than most of those which obtained only a generation or two back. Still the writers who, down to the present day, have devoted themselves to the illustration of the art, are astoundingly few in number. A somewhat assiduous search, we are persuaded, would result in bringing to light the works of not more than a couple of dozen authors at the most-a list which, compared with the copious literature of land-warfare, is short indeed. Yet the publication of the books which such a list would include ranges over a period of nigh two hundred years.

Considering the facilities that naval warfare offers for the elaboration of tactics upon paper, and the clearly-established historical fact that such elaborations have been made to bear important fruit, it is indeed surprising that we have not been favoured with more of them. The face of the ocean,' as Clerk of Eldin says, 'considered as a field for immediate en'gagement, having neither rivers, ravines, banks, woods, nor

mountains, to stop progress, or interrupt the sight; should not ' every occurrence, every transaction, for these reasons, and in such circumstances, be more easily conceived, understood, and

explained than even in military operations on land?' • Com• bats at sea,' says Paul Hoste, . are not like those on land ; an • army on land, when inferior to its enemy, entrenches itself,

occupies strong positions, and supplies by means of forests, rivers, and defiles, what it wants in strength; but of a fleet 'we must judge as we should of an army on a perfectly open

and level plain.' In following the operations of a fleet, therefore, there is not the same strain upon the attention that is necessary in trying to understand the Auctuations of a landbattle or campaign. Also, in devising any system of evolutions or tactical manæuvres for use in sea-fights, we are not compelled to face many elements of disturbance, which in the case of land-battles we should be unable to omit from our calculations.

We have spoken of the various tactical periods into which the history of warfare by sea has been divided. We propose to indicate them successively as we go on. The earliest is that during which the ships which took part in naval engagements were invariably propelled by oars when in action. The smooth waters and regular seasons of the tideless Mediterranean must soon have led the leaders of ancient fleets to adopt a somewhat formal evolutionary system, with which their customary training as land-soldiers would inevitably have familiarised them, and which the mechanical propulsion of their vessels would render easy and simple in execution. An essential feature of this system was the violent onset of ship against ship; the height of tactical skill in the commander of each particular vessel being to bring his prow with crushing effect against the flank of a hostile galley. Formations accordingly were devised and adopted which should enable the several ship-commanders to execute, or avoid, this important manæuvre. It appears that the usual order of battle of an ancient fleet was crescent-shaped, the bows of all pointing towards the enemy. The ancient admirals were too skilful to adhere blindly on all occasions to a formation which so admirably satisfied most tactical requirements. On some memorable occasions, and with results that amply justified the steps taken, they departed from the customary practice. At the battle of Artemisium, fought nearly five hundred years before the Christian era, a battle less important in its military than its political results, the scene of which the Theban poet celebrated as the place where the sons of Athens laid the shining ground

work of freedom,' the Greeks adopted a very remarkable order of battle. Their fleet was very inferior in number of ships to that of the Persians, which was large enough to literally surround them. To have fought in the common formation would have been destruction. The Grecian leaders therefore formed their fleet in a different order. The huge

« ForrigeFortsett »