The Ships of Tarshish
Prologue Written in 1884. Part the First
Prologue Written in 1884. Part the First.
The Ships of Tarshish was written in 1865, and printed in the latter part of 1866, but till now has never been offered for sale. The only chance of being known, or publication, that the work hitherto has had has consisted in the giving away between 1867 and the present time of 30 copies of the work—that being about the number possessed by me in this country up to a year or two ago, at which date I got the sheets of the remainder of the edition forwarded to me, minus about 70 copies unaccounted for.
The whole of the edition, except those 30 copies mentioned, had been left lying at the publishers' warehouse in London during sixteen years. I had, long before that time had elapsed, been quite resigned to aban-doning it to what I thought would be its final destination - the cheese and butter shop; and even then I tried to draw some small consolation from the thought that by that means the ideas in the book might be disseminated and take root in some mind, and bear useful fruit at a future time.
One cause for this feeling was that for most of the period, or during about fourteen years, my whole mind, and necessarily time, was being taken up with "Roads North of Auckland," and whenever the thought of my unfortunate book crossed by mind, it was generally only accompanied with regret for the money I had wanted over it.
This feeling was so strong with me for some time, that even when I read, with some interest, an account of Admiral Popoff's new circular iron-clads in the Black Sea, and which approached a good way towards the ideas set forth in my book, I was not sufficiently moved to look after those neglected copies. I most say for myself, however, that I never, at any time, lost faith in the ultimate realisation of my ideas.
One incident about that time, however, I recollect amused me very much. A gentleman (in Dunedin, I think) wrote to the papers indignantly denouncing what he called Admiral Popoff's piracy of his ideas.page 2
There came a change, however. About September, 1880, at Mr. De Grut's house, Orewa, where I was staying while engaged in surveying an improved line of road between the Wade township and the Hot Springs, Waiwera, I came across the number in the "Illustrated London News," in which was an illustrated description of the Livadia, which vessel I remarked upon at the time as being extremely like my Ships of Tarshish, though owing to the illustration being drawing in perspective, and showing the lofty superstructure, with the ordinary ship-shape appearance of the bow, the hull, or real vessel, was so disguised that the similarity did not come out very clear.
A short, time afterwards Mr. Coppell, at present engineer of the s.s. Rose Casey, at that time in the Argyle, kindly lent me a number of the Marine Engineer—that for August, 1880—which, in addition to a perspective view of the vessel, furnished also horizontal, cross, and longitu dinal sections of it.
Copies of each of the two first-named of those sections are given herewith in juxta-position, for purposes of comparison with the corresponding sections of the Ships of Tarshish. I may add here that the longitudinal section in each case is not given, as the cross section, with the middle or flat portion of the upper line suitably lengthened, would be almost exactly similar to it.
I may also state that though these sections of the Ships of Tarshish were not given with the earliest printed portion of the book, and have only lately been drawn, and therefore might be liable to suspicion from their remarkably close similarity to those of the Livadia, yet at pages 87, etc., and 97, etc., a clearly worded specification of the shape and dimensions is given (in addition to small-scale illustration on book cover), and not a single feature is shown in the drawings which could not be clearly deduced therefrom.
And what if all this is the case? Well—not much, perhaps, with most people. If you mention the Livadia to any of the ordinary run of people at the present time, you will be met with some such remark as—"Oh! the Livadia—she has proved an utter failure." "She is going to be broken up," or "has been broken up," etc.
The Great Eastern also was, or is a failure. "Every one" said she would be, chiefly because she was too big. Well, I suppose in a certain sense she is. The mottoes, "Our craft is in danger, by which we make much gain," or "He followeth not us, and therefore should be forbidden," are sufficient often to create an influence which will cause anything to be a failure. But though the Great Eastern is a failure, the page 3City of Rome, I suppose, is a success; and she is not very unlike the Great Eastern, at leant in point of size.
The Sues Canal ought to have been a failure if the opinion of the highest practical authorities in opposition to those of amateur theorists had been taken. And had the prophets of evil the power in this case to influence the results to the extent which unfortunately they have in most, the Sues Canal would also hare proved a failure.
I may not be an impartial or good judge, but time will show, and with respect to the Livadia being a non-success, I venture to believe that there are some thoughtful people who think differently, and who will be of the opinion, that though the Livadia may never be allowed to travel another mile, she has done a good work by her exhibited proof of speed and steadiness (want of sufficient strength for the unfair trial to which she was put, and not being on a scale large enough for an ocean steamer of her shape, being her only defects), and that her construction will be quoted in after ages as the commencement of the greatest revolution ever made in the means of ocean travelling.
It is partly because I have made come lucky hits and guesses already in connection with the subject, in the shape of predictions, in my printed book, and which I will point out further on, and partly in the hope that my humble effort may perhaps expedite the course of events, that I am now writing this additional preface to show what, in my opinion, the nature of this revolution will be—in short, what the ultimate form and size of the ships of the future will be not very much unlike. This portion of the subject I will treat of in the second part of this prologue, after I have first dealt with the already printed book.
To the thoughtful people, I have alluded to, it may be interesting to have pointed out the many curious coincidences between the Ships of Tarshish and the Livadia as regards shape, proportions of length, breadth, height, etc., and they will therefore excuse the exhibition of any small amount of gratified vanity that I may display in pointing them out.
This comparison I now proceed to make, first premising that any one of the linear dimensions of the Livadia is almost exactly two-thirds of that corresponding to it in the Ships of Tarshish.
The Livadia is 235 feet long, the Ship of Tarshish 350 feet long, two-thirds of which equal 234 feet.page 4
The former is 153 feet broad, the latter 230 feet, two-thirds of which equal 154 feet.
Now this proportion of length to breadth was not adopted by the designers of the Livadia in an arbitrary manner, but after careful trials. Among others "the late Mr. W. Froude conducted, at the request of Admiral Popoff, some experiments with the models of vessels of his design." I quote from a paper read before the Fairfield Association of Engineers and Ship Builders, by E. E. Goulaeff, Captain of the Corps of Naval Architects, R.I.N., Ad. C., F.R.S.N.A., M.I.N.A. I also quote from it the following:—
"This vessel" (the Livadia) "is 235 feet long, 153 feet broad, and has a draught of 6ft. 6in. She might have been a little longer, but on closer investigation it was found that the addition of some 25ft or 50ft. to her length would not have reduced the resistance in water. Augmentation of skin friction, not being sufficiently compensated by the improved lines, would have required increased power to drive the larger vessel with the given speed. She might have been a little narrower to suit the taste of most people, yet the beam of 153 feet cannot be regarded as being too great if we bear in mind the main object of her design, namely, the desire to secure the greatest steadiness."
I may confess here that the way in which the proportions of length to breadth in the Ships of Tarshish was arrived at by myself was not by any means experimental or scientific. I simply pondered over the matter, and, like a German philosopher (I was in Germany at the time), evolved the idea out of my own internal consciousness that the outline produced by the longtitudinal bisection of a long-shaped egg would give the proportions of length to breadth most desirable in the sort of vessel I had in view.
I accordingly selected an egg of suitable shape, and, holding it firmly over a sheet of paper, and keeping my eye at a good height, as well as I Could perpendicularly over it, with one of Faber's patent long thin leads I drew by hand a projection of the outline of the egg on paper; and having "touched" up the inequalities of the outline so produced, I scaled the length and breadth of the resulting figure, and so obtained the proportions which I used.
The height from the water line to the crown of the arch forming the highest part of the deck of the hull in the Livadia is fourteen feet by scale from the drawings given in the Marine Engineer. (The dimensions were not given in the accompanying letterpress, but the scaling brought the same result in both longtitudinal and cross sections, as compared with length and breadth of vessels. The distance from bottom to crown of arch shows 20½ feet.)page 5
The Livadia, then, is fourteen feet from water line or base of arch to highest part of arch forming deck. The same dimension in Ships of Tarshish is 22 feet, two-thirds of which equal 14½ feet.
Now, this is, perhaps, a more extraordinary coincidence than any of the others, as the particular form of arch used for the Livadia might have been selected arbitrarily—that if, within the limits of three or four feet, more or less height—while that for the Ships of Tarshish, being for fighting ships, was amenable to the necessity of having the tangent to it at the point of its intersection with water line, at an inclination not steeper than 45 degrees.
The draught of the Livadia (with coals) is 6½ feet; that of the Ships of Tarshish (with coals), 10½ feet; two-thirds of which equal 7 feet.
This result affords me some gratification (I mean the proved draught of the Livadia), as it shows that my rough estimate given in book, and which took me only about an hour to arrive at, must be pretty near correct.
With the same load, in proportion to size, the Ships of Tarshish should have drawn 10 feet. They would have a heavier load of steel and iron to carry on the hull, in the shape of armour and numerous cells; but these, again, would be nearly balanced by the heavy superstructure carried by the Livadia, the remainder being met with the six or seven inches extra draught of the Ships of Tarshish above the proportion of three to two.
The flat bottom of the Livadia is double, the skins averaging about 3 feet apart, the interval between being filled with numerous cells, narrow and long. The flat bottom in the Ships of Tarshish is double, with skins 4 feet apart, the interval between being filled with much more numerous cells of a hexagonal form. The bottom, in fact, would resemble a honeycomb, with thin sheets top and bottom covering the cells.
The Livadia has three screws, and with the three funnels belonging to them placed a little more than three-sevenths, of the hull's length from the stern. The Ships of Tarshish have three screws and their three funnels (as shown in drawing on cover) are placed a little more than three-sevenths of the hull's length from the stern. Now, this fixing of position was entirely a hap-hazard matter on my part.
Here the more near resemblances cease with regard to the respective structures of the two sets of vessels; but where they differ, the advantage with respect to strength is in favour of the Ships of Tarshish, as was necessary should be the case for fighting ships.
The sides of the Livadia are strengthened, and the vessel is protected from sinkability by double vertical bulkheads, running round the page 6ship and divided into cells. There are no cells or double skins to the roof of the hull.
The Ships of Tarshish have a double skin to every part of the hull, the interval between being filled with numerous hexagonal, truncated-pyramidal, or prismatoidal cells, according as surface is flat or more or less sharply rounded, a construction—in connection with adjuncts such as tubular braces and girders provided, for in book—giving immense strength.
Now, I do not mean to claim that I have arrived at anything like correct finality, and I think it more than probable that my ideas are unpractical as far as hitting upon the line between economy and absolutely necessary strength is concerned; but I have an instinct, nevertheless, which assures me that the structure of the sides, deck, and bottom of fighting ships, ultimately fixed upon, will come much nearer to that of the Ships of Tarshish than to that of the ironclads at present in vogue—even leaving shape entirely out of question. I boldly claim, however, to have proposed the most perfect form (being a slight modification of that of the Ships of Tarshish) for unsinkable ships in the second part of this preface, that can be devised, as far as effectiveness is concerned: the only question being—Is it necessary, on the score of expense, to adopt the most perfect form?
But with respect to the question of shape, I was gratified to read the following extract from a leader in the Marine Engineer of August 1880, printed fifteen years after the Ships of Tarshish was written, and eighteen years after I first conceived the idea worked out in that book. The article is on the Livadia, and something very similar to it in reasoning and tone will be found at pages 95 and following in the boot.
"Should this vessel prove as successful as we anticipate, she will be the beau ideal of the steadiest gun platform in a heavy sea. Not only on account of her steadiness and speed will she, in our opinion, prove a new departure in ironclads, but we think she possesses an entirely novel attribute of safety, which we believe has not yet been remarked upon. We have before pointed out that in the constant rivalry between heavy guns and thick armour, the guns have still, and are likely to continue to have, a great supremacy." (See page 48, fourth line from bottom.) "We have not yet by any means reached limit of weight or piercing power in our guns and projectiles, while we are now being sorely puzzled how to add thicker armour to our already over-weighted ironclads. No serious effort has yet, however, in our opinion, been made to devise an ironclad which, by its peculiar arrangement of surface, should prevent the direct impact of a shot. In the case of the Livadia, if the superstructure were removed, and the turbot-shaped hull alone remained." (the page 7italics are mine), "rising from the waters at an angle of not more than 15 or 20 degrees, we think it would be impossible for our heaviest guns to pierce such a surface even when of 8 to 12 inches armour. The endeavour to strike such a floating body would, we feel convinced, result, in only a ricochet of the projectile, whose force would be thus harmlessly spent," &c.
The Livadia, "with the superstructure removed," would be an almost exact model of the Ships of Tarshish. See drawings.
I believe, if ever the North Pole is to be reached, it will have to be by means of vessels constructed like the Ships of Tarshish, with modifications as described hereinafter with respect to "the ships of the future." A broad strong vessel that could never be crushed in, divided into numerous small cells, with saws working in front, with a deck shaped like the double mould boards of a moulding plough at the hinder part, with an arrangement of travelling scoops like those of a dredge to throw the ice detached behind the vessel as the latter burrowed its way, would do a good deal in places where another vessel would be hopelessly jammed. A perfectly circular vessel would perhaps be the best, because it might be required to be able to turn on its own centre at times.
A few words as to the origin of the book, the Ships of Tarshish. I landed in England in March, 1862, and one morning, a few days after—in common, I suppose, with many others—I was much impressed by reading the news of the encounter between the Merrimac and Monitor, and the sinking of the Constitution (I think it was) by the former ship.
The problem of how to secure absolute, or almost absolute, invulnerability for ships, immediately occurred to my mind. I thought of how the weak might be protected against the strong by suitable measures carried out with prudence and foresight.
In old times, long before, I remember how that portion of Cooper's novel, the "Deerslayer," took my fancy which described old Tom Hutter's Ark on the Glimmerglass Lake, and the safety it afforded against the murderous rush of the Indians described in one of the scenes of the book.
I suppose I was the more easily impressed from associations of ideas connected with my infant days at Paihia, when we all had to live in residences surrounded by high palisading as a protection against the muru expeditions to which we were liable about once a month, upon some pretext or another.
But to return. During the next year or two I often reflected on the best form of vessel for securing such absolute safety, and that which page 8would best serve the purposes of a fighting ship. (During the Schleswig-Holstein war I often thought of how the poor Danes might have held their own in the Island of Alsen had they been possessed of such a vessel as one of the Ships of Tarshish, invulnerable, and with a shallow draught of water.) The result was the idea brought out in the book.
|Name of Ship.||Displacement.||Horse-power.||Speed in Knots.|
Near the commencement of this prologue I alluded to a certain sort of anticipatory lucky hits which I had made in the book, and which I now bring forward. It will be observed that though written in the beginning of 1865 the book professes to describe events which occurred in 1867.
At page 47 is described the construction of an immense dock not far from Gravesend (called Wavesend in book) on northern side of river in marshy land. That the northern side is intended is shown by the drawing on cover, and direction taken by the first monster on emerging from the dock.
A short time ago I came across a scrap of newspaper from which I extract the following, which does not read altogether unlike the description of the Tarshish Works at said page 47:—
"The New Tilbury Docks at Gravesend.
"Every succeeding dock has, of late years, been constructed lower down the river, and, at length, the East and West India Dock Company have boldly pushed their enterprise light down to Gravesend, or rather Tilbury, just opposite to Gravesend, from which works of a most gigantic character may be seen in progress, all through the night as well as by day. No such dock construction as this has ever been witnessed since docks were first in requisition. By day, a stretch of land three-quarters of a mile long, and perhaps half a mile wide, appears to be one scene of activity never suspended for above an hour at a time, and not entirely page 9even for an hour, Sunday or week-day…. When these docks are finished the largest vessels afloat will, it is said, be capable of coming in and going out, irrespectively of tide."
At page 48 "the big paper, the Great Diurnal Weathercock," is mentioned. Lately, in reading "John Bull and his Island," I find the paper intended called therein a "creaking old weathercock."
At page 67, in paragraph nearest foot, certain political transactions and intrigues—influencing a particular great personage—are described as occurring in July, 1867, which might serve very well in every particular as a condensed statement of what actually did occur in the same month three years later, in connection with same parties, the only exception being that another nation was substituted for Albion as object of aggression.
In Chapter XIX., a sudden declaration of war is stated to have been made in the latter half of July, 1867. In the latter half of July three years after that date a sudden declaration of war was actually made by the potentate indicated.
At page 100 is described the behaviour of the Ships of Tarshish in a fierce gale, and the appearance of their decks covered with luminous foam, etc.
In the paper read before the Fairfield Institute by Captain Gonlaeff, already alluded to, occurs the following passage describing the behaviour of Admiral Popoff's circular vessels in a gale:—"Very often when on board a circular ironclad steaming in a gale, watching the behaviour of the boisterous seas about the rounded deck of the vessel, I was lost in admiration of the fruitless attempts made by the picturesque phosphorescent waves to produce any influence on the majestic steadiness of the ship."
Lastly, among other curious coincidences, in the beginning of the same paper the Livadia is styled "The Fairfield child," the syllable italicized—the first of the two composing the name—being identical with the first of the two composing the name of myself, who, 15 years previously, had printed a specification of vessels similar to the one being described, that one at the same time being so revolutionary in its design.
One hit, however, of mine, which I must mention, was not so lucky, although a curious coincidence was mixed up with it too; for the fact forming which, however, only my word will have to be taken. The poor Baron who was described at page 67 as being so politically active in July, 1867, died about nine months before that date. The very same mail that brought to me, in the country village where I was residing, the proof of page 67, brought the daily paper recording his unexpectedly sudden death.page 10
I had almost forgotten to state amongst the foregoing what may prove to be the greatest coincidence of all, but the stating of which, I suppose, will subject me to the derision and contempt of the wise and the learned. When I called those ships, of so strange and unusual a shape, the Ships of Tarshish, I did not dream that such would ever be fit for any other than fighting ships.
The name was of course taken from the Bible, and I always fully believed that the ships of Tarshish of prophecy meant the ships of England, or rather of the majority of the English-speaking peoples, and that they were also passenger-carrying ships, and therefore I felt (and was mentally uncomfortable therefor) the impropriety of giving that name to vessels fit only for fighting purposes. I had not then, I repeat, the least idea of what I now feel certain, since Admiral Popoff's experiment (at present seemingly unsuccessful) that of their shape will be the passenger ships of the future.
(By way of parenthesis, and partly because we are so much despised by many wise, by many learned, I may state that I am not ashamed to confess that I am one of those crazy ones who believe in what is some times called the "Anglo-Israel" theory. I first heard of it neatly ten years ago, and believed in it at once, only wondering I had not thought of it previouly. But then I was predisposed to believe, which made all the difference.
I had come to the conclusion long before, as evidenced by the ninth chapter of my book, that the English-speaking peoples formed the nucleus of Daniel's fifth kingdom, and I felt vexed at my want of discernment in not having properly appreciated such a difficulty as that God should have allowed the descendants of His chosen people to be set aside for others, these others to take their place completely, even to the "keeping of their statutes which they never kept in their own land." And also how all the splendid promises made to Abraham's seed should have been allowed to end in a miserable fiasco. For if we except a small period of time comprising the latter portion of David's and beginning of Solomon's respective reigns, the history of the children of Israel appears to be composed of a constant succession of troubles and strugglings for existence. Of course if one does not really believe the Bible, and looks upon the predictions of the prophets as the mere poetical and patriotic effusions of excited imaginations, it is perfectly useless to pursue such a subject for one instant.
But as for me, I believe in the Bible as a book different from every other book. I believe that every jot and tittle of the prophecies will be fulfilled. I even believe in the first chapter of Genesis as being a con-page 11cise and true statement of things which actually occurred, though perhaps our English language (or any now spoken or written language) may lack the comprehensive root-power which the original in which the narrative was imparted to Moses may have possessed. I believe that Moses, in proportion to all that he did or wrote, made fewer mistakes than any other mortal man before his time or since.
I am not altogether ignorant of either scientific or would-be scientific dicta on these subjects. At the same time I am not altogether overwhelmed by their authority, for I consider that the true instinct of a simple and unworldly mind may sometimes be superior in discernment to reason, and I also am constantly pervaded with a sense of the possibilities of infinitude, of the things in heaven and earth, which are not dreamt of in any philosophy.
I have a sort of instinctive hope that, when that abomination of desolation, the Mahomedan rule, is ended, allowing proper search to be made, Noah's Ark will be discovered, that the tabernacle, the ark, and the altar of incense hidden by Jeremiah will be found—(if the coffin of Agamemnon, who died more than 300 years previous to the time of Jeremiah, has been discovered, why not these things?)—as also Pharaoh's chariot wheels, and other relics of his army destroyed in crossing the Red Sea.
On the other hand, I will state, in order to complete my degradation, that I never could (not even as a boy) and do not, believe in the "sublime theory," or scientific dogma, of universal gravitation; and as for terrestrial gravitation, I believe in Sir Richard Phillips' explanation of its cause as given in his "Million of Facts." I have noticed scientific men professing to be horrified when some theory—say in connection with the sun—involving the principle or necessity of perpetual motion has been broached, as if that was sufficient to condemn it right off; but to me universal gravitation appears to involve that principle with a vengeance.)
But to resume, after this long parenthesis. If all these promises are to be faithfully kept—if these prophecies are to be fulfilled—if the descendants of the children of Israel are to be taken to their own land (where it is easy to see, in any case, even from only a secular and common-sense point of view, will be the metropolis of the world one day, in every other sense as completely as by position it is physically), then how curious that I should unconsciously—not dreaming at the time, as I have said, of passenger ships—have given the name mentioned in the prophecies to a particular form and shape of vessel (the most revolutionary since the time of Noah), and which will eventually prove to be that which will be employed to do the work mentioned in those page 12prophecies; always supposing that my opinions set forth in the second part of this prologue shall prove to be correct.
The immediately foregoing is not so much an irrelevant digression, as most readers perhaps will think it, for the reason that the Ships of Tarshish would never have been written had I not been strongly imbued with the sentiments expressed therein.
And now, before I proceed to the second part of this preface, which will open out new considerations, I will make a few final remarks on the book generally.
I do not wish to lay claim to any great merit for my ideas, or to any portion of the credit due to Admiral Popoff for having independently carried out practically what I had conceived of theoretically.
But I think I can claim this much. I had the good fortune, or good sense (whichever it may have been) to clear in one bound—a good way towards finality—a great way beyond several steps which have been taken since in actual practice, the most of them composed of innumerable successive experiments and expensive Tinkerings, with disappointingly uncertain results. (Even as I am copying this, which I wrote three or four weeks ago between whiles, I read in the English news of the justifiable alarm which the state of the English Navy is arousing. Do you think, intelligent reader, that if a ship of the form and dimensions of one of the Ships of Tarshish had been built sixteen years ago, even had she cost three times as much as the most costly in the British navy, that she would not now be worth her cost in the sense of security given? And can the same thing, or anything like the same thing, be truly said of any of the vessels built at that time or since?)
I think I avoided the two chief defects of the present class of vessels. Firstly, their want of steadiness and their inability to carry sufficient thickness of armour. For in vessels of the Ships of Tarshish class, in addition to almost absolute steadiness in any weather, there would scarcely be any limit to the resisting power of the armour which they could carry, owing to their great breadth together with their peculiar shape, as regards inclination of all surfaces above water line.
Secondly, I anticipated what has always seemed to me a fatal defect in the construction of the orthodox style of vessels. These latter appear to me to require barely to touch one another to cause yawning seams to open out in every direction, the vessels filling and going down in a few minutes, as instanced in the case of the Vanguard, Grosser Kurfürst, and, only the other day nearly, in the case of the collision between the Valiant and Defence.page 13
I think the method suggested in my book, or some not very great modification of it, would remedy this defect. This method is the having the sides, top and bottom formed with doable skins, with interval between filled with numerous small cells. The resistance to any blow would thus be distributed over a great number of parts, which, with each of their junctions affording a certain amount of yielding, one after the other, would present an extent of elasticity that would deaden any blow, while any crushing in would only be local. Such a construction would also present a complete system of trussing, radiating in every direction, thus rendering the vessel equally strong in every direction, so that it could almost be able to rest on a pivot, such as a rock, without experiencing damaging strains.
An extreme illustration of the difference between the two styles of construction would be a piece of glass in contrast to a piece of pumice stone. A blow delivered with a small hammer would splinter the one into fragments, while it would only bruise the other. Now my idea of vessels is that they should be almost absolutely indestructible—that neither dynamite nor torpedoes should be able to sink them—that they should be able to be run ashore full tilt, as the Triumph was on Tiritiri-matangi, and yet be able to be backed off again with their own steaming power, and stall then have a reserve of buoyancy left uninjured sufficient to enable them to proceed to the nearest harbour or dock (even though hundreds of miles distant) with safety. But I am anticipating my second part.
The seemingly chief objection to this class of fighting ships is their great expense; but this struck me as being one of the greatest arguments in their favour. England, with her immense foreign trade and consequent wealth, who has interests to protect abroad of tenfold greater extent than has any of the continental powers, and who at the same time, owing to her insular position, is not under the necessity as they are of keeping up immense standing armies,—England, I say, would be placed in a position of relative advantage by every increase in the expense of naval warfare, on account of her greater wealth and the additional expenditure being on armaments much more than on men.
If one seriously reflects, it seems absurd that England should be satisfied with a fleet only a little stronger than that of France, who has an army five times as strong as the former has; or that Italy should possess individual vessels capable of overpowering the strongest ones in the English Navy, and consequently capable in on action of destroying a whole fleet of vessels, one after the other.
To me it seems that England ought, after allowing for difference in wages in the two countries, and hidden expenses (as services in kind by page 14friends and relations of conscripts) which do not appear on the estimates in a continental system, for necessary security, to expend as much on her army and navy together as France does on her's, with, a fair margin beyond for contingencies, such as a combination of two or more powers against her.
But if that should be thought too much, yet after all, as England's naval power, increased to any extent, could never be anything more than a defensive power, she should have a fleet at least twice as strong as that of any one of the other powers, and comprising individual vessels much stronger than the strongest that could be opposed to them. Just in the same manner as their standing armies, armaments, and fortresses dwarf those of England, making it utterly out of the question that she with her army should ever be able to invade one of their countries, so should England possess such a navy as to render it just as utterly out of the question that any one or more of them should be able with their navies to invade her island.
About the end of October, 1880, I sent a letter to Admiral Popoff along with a copy of the Ships of Tarshish. I received in reply, immediately by return of post, the kind and courteous letter which is inserted at the end of this preface, and which I have given in fac-simile (pretty faithfully rendered), as I thought a time might come when it would be interesting, as—to use the Admiral's phrase—"adding to the history of the subject."
At the time the letter was written he had not yet (as he states therein) received the book, but I had taken the precaution to enclose in my letter tracings of drawings similar to those inserted at end of this preface, with addition of one of the longitudinal section, and which were drawn strictly in accordance with the description at page 95 of book, as may be verified.
I also at the same time sent a letter and a copy of the book along with similar tracings to Sir E. J. Reed. I received no acknowledgment from him. I have heard since that at the time my letter would have reached England he was absent in Japan. But even if that had not been the case, it would no doubt have been too much to have expected any notice of the matter from one with such multifarious demands on his valuable time.
And now for a few general remarks on the original book itself, which I am now about to offer to the public after the 18 years during page 15which its pages have been lying neglected on the shelves of a warehouse, or whatever other form of resting place is usually devoted to such things.
The book is in the form of a novel, but I do not pride myself on the felicity of the plot or the diction, nor is it of the kind that the general run of novel readers would hanker after. My first idea was to write it in the form of a burlesque, and indications of this will be seen in the opening chapters. But I had not the skill to keep this up, I suppose, or I found as I went on that it was going to clash with the practical purpose for which the book was written, and so I soon drifted into a more serious style. Magna componere parvis, I remember Dickens describes something of the same sort with respect to the first design of Pickwick.
I have not read the Battle of Dorking, never having come across it, but from what I have been told, I believe, in its leading purpose— that of warning against unpreparedness, it was anticipated by my book.
There is a good deal in the book I would like to strike out, if I had the chance, and a good deal which I think I could improve upon, but it cannot be helped now. I beg the reader therefore not to regard the composition as a novel, but only as a description of what was, in the writer's opinion, the proper form for fighting vessels, more particularly for coast and harbour defence.
The political opinions, arguments, retorts, etc., given in the opening pages of the book, are not to be taken as expressing my own individual sentiments (not, however, that I suppose that they would be held to matter much), but only as faithful and literal transcriptions of what I actually heard from others or read at the time stated.
In the chapter entitled German Chaff, or the too idiomatic translation of it, the English chaff, unbrilliant as it may be, was taken from actual remarks heard at the time from persons, or from English papers, while the German Chaff with all its brilliance is, almost word for word, taken from German newspapers at the time.
At that time from the biggest city, Zeitung, to the smallest village, Krentzer Wochen, or Tag-blatt (three kreutzers make a penny), each was full of John Bull's delinquencies; and Englishmen generally had a hard time of it, unless they were prudent, and kept very quiet. John Bull was the most sordid, contemptible creature on earth; full of greed, mean envy, trickery, bounce and cowardice. Even at the fairs, in the Punch and Judy shows, special comedies were improvised for the introduction of John as subjected to all sorts of deserved humiliations before grinning audiences.
Even when, three or four rears after, he spent 14 millions in rescuing about 30 persons from captivity (being at the rate of about half-a-million each person), of whom only one was an Englishman, the rest being page 16Germans, he was actuated by no good motive. He had some selfish, sordid end to serve, which his cowardice at the last prevented him from realising or revealing, thus impelling him to bring matters to a harried close.
I remarked at that time (1864), however, that some of the German Evangelical papers (I think the ones I noticed were edited by Moravians) even during the season of greatest political heat, spoke always of the English in none but terms of kindness and respect. From which I infer that there are some parts of the nation who also belong to Israel.
One so thought insuperable objection to our Anglo-Israel theory is that the tares have been so hopelessly mixed up with the wheat, that the idea of ever being able to distinguish them is absurd. But when the time of harvest comes it will be found that the work will be easy enough; they will label themselves. I believe in the instincts of race.
For my part I have a great respect and liking for the Germans and their kindred nationalities. Next to being a British-descended New Zealander I would be a Briton. Next to that I would be a British-descended American. Next to that a German, or Scandinavian, or a Huguenot Frenchman (whatever now may be his representative).
I think it might be a good thing for the world if Germany, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway could be united in one large empire, but not without the full and free consent of all concerned.
I am afraid, however, such dreams are not to be; that it is too late (the three frogs being already abroad), and that the elements of internal disorder and mutual jealousy existent amongst continental nations, are too great to allow of their being realised; therefore I believe that, after a time of great trouble, in which we also, owing to the mixture of tares with our wheat, will be greatly shaken, the better parts of those nations, gazing round agonized and reeling from the effects of general anarchy, and sacrificing all particular national feelings, will ask to be taken under our wing, and so "be blessed."