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A History of Sea Power by Stevens and Westcott

A short history of the royal navy


bearing of his work on the British empire lies chiefly in his careful survey of the east coast of Australia, which he laid claim to in the name of King George, and the circumnavigation of New Zealand, which later gave title to the British claim on those islands. Thus, while the American colonies in the west were winning their independence, another territory in the east, far more extensive, was being brought under British sway, destined in another century to become important dominions of the empire. The Dutch had a claim of priority in discovery through the early voyages of Tasman, but they attempted no colonization and Dutch sea power was too weak to make good a technical claim in the face of England's navy.

Finally, when the results of a century of wars between France and England are summarized, we find that France had lost all her great domain in America except a few small islands in the West Indies. In brief, it is due to British control of the sea during the 18th century that practically all of the continent north of the Rio Grande is English in speech, laws, and tradition.

This control of the sea exercised by England was not the gift of fortune. It was a prize gained, in the main, by wise policy in peace and hard fighting in war. France had the opportunity to wrest from England the control of the sea as England had won it from Holland, for France at the close of the 17th century dominated Europe. In population

and in wealth she was superior to her rival. But the arrogance of her king kept her embroiled in futile wars on the Continent, with little energy left for the major issue, the conquest of the sea. Finally, when the war of American Independence left her a free hand to concentrate on her navy as against that of England, France lost through the fatal weakness of policy which corrupted all her officers with the single brilliant exception of Suffren. The French naval officer avoided battle on principle, and when he could not avoid it he accepted the defensive. To the credit of the English officer be it said that, as a rule, he sought the enemy and took the aggressive; he had the "fighting spirit." This difference between French and British commanders had as much to do with the ultimate triumph of England on the sea as anything else. It retrieved many a blunder in strategy and tactics by sheer hard hitting.

The history of the French navy points a moral applicable to any service and any time. When a navy encourages the idea that ships must not be risked, that a decisive battle must be avoided because of what might happen in case of defeat, it is headed for the same fate that overwhelmed the French.


INFLUENCE OF SEA POWER UPON HISTORY, A. T. Mahan, 1890. A SHORT HISTORY OF THE ROYAL NAVY, David Hannay, 1909. THE ROYAL NAVY (vols. II, III), W. L. Clowes et al., 1903. ADMIRAL BLAKE, English Men of Action Series, David Hannay, 1909. RODNEY, English Men of Action Series, David Hannay, 1891. MONK, English Men of Action Series, Julian Corbett, 1907. ENGLAND IN THE SEVEN YEARS' WAR, J. S. Corbett, 1907. THE GRAVES PAPERS, F. E. Chadwick, 1916. STUDIES IN NAVAL HISTORY, BIOGRAPHIES, J. K. Laughton, 1887. FROM HOWARD TO NELSON, ed. by J. K. Laughton, 1899. MAJOR OPERATIONS IN THE WAR OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE, A. T. Mahan, 1913. SEA KINGS OF BRITAIN, Geoffrey Callender, 1915.



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