The Conservative (Nebraska City, Neb.) 1898-1902, July 28, 1898, Page 11, Image 11

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The Conservative. 11
Some Naval Lessons of the \Viir.
It is too soon yet to focus all the side
lights which will hnvo been shed oil the
problems of uavnl wnrfaro by the out
come of the Spanish-Americau conflict.
The failure of the enemy's navy to jus
tify many of the expectations which had
been formed of its effective fighting
strength precludes some of the light
which might have come from a great
naval battle on the side of sea tactics
and strategy. This probably would not
have been much greater , however , in
the case of arniorclads than of wooden
ships , for the broad principles whir'
won at Salamis , Lopauto and Trafalgar
will always hold good.
Some things have been made clear.
The apprehension felfc over the power of
the torpedo boat as a sea weapon has
been greatly allayed. The battle which
annihilated Cervera's fleet proved con
clusively that a multiplicity of rapid
firing guns , well served , is a pretty sure
defense against such a fighting factor.
The torpedo boat is , like the cobra , dead
ly in its stroke , but easily killed before
reaching the striking distance. One
mysterious terror has received a douche
of cold sea water. Only by a union of
great skill and daring in the service of
torpedo warfare and under most favora
ble conditions , can it bo raised to its
Nth power. Again , the importance of
increased speed in our battleships has
been signally enforced. The Cristobal
Colon would unquestionably have es
caped had it not been for the Oregon ,
an unusually swift battleship , and the
fast Brooklyn. All the foreign admiral
ties are planning battleships with mini
mum speed of from 17 to 18 knots , and
yet our naval department fatuously lays
out its -now ships for a minimum 15
knot speed and rejects the chief engi
neer's recommendation for the most im
proved boilers and engines , because
they will take up too much room. The
need of a greater ratio of armored cruis
ers with a very high speed has also been
made clear as noonday. The great Nel
son's cry was over : "Frigates , more
frigates ! I have sail of the line enough. "
Higli powered , armored ships with their
lighter heels and greater firing radius
are likely to bo quite as valuable an
element in triumphant sea fighting as
the slower liners with their maximum
battery strength. Not fewer battleships ,
but more armored cruisers should bo the
shibboleth of coming naval estimates , if
wo crave a well balanced navy.
The most notable lesson of all is the
tremendous potency sheathed in the
phrase , "Tho man behind the gun.
More than over now that the agency of
attack involves the skillful command of
the most complex , ingenious and nicely
adjusted mechanism , do the discipline
and intelligence of the purely human
factor count. The knowledge of our
men and officers , trained by practice to
the most prompt and efficient work , has
excited the admiration of the world.
Iluro wo have had the biggest odds
against the Spaniard. And in this ele
ment of preponderance we could proba
bly challenge the world for a match.
The Hand of Kate.
There are certain progressive , or rath
er cumulative , tendencies in history , for
which we can find no other name than
fatality. The movement may bo delay
ed or for a time even reversed. Wo do
not always recognize the inevitable cer
tainty toward a goal , as contemporary
critics. It is only in the retrospect
where all the relations of facts in the
paat as well as the present become clear
ly outlined that this melancholy stamp
shows its deep brand as if burned in
with fire. The downfall of nations al
ways offers material for reflection of
this kind. Individuals pay the penalty
according to measure of long continued
blunders and vices. With peoples and
governments even more than with indi
The mills of the gods grind slowly ,
But they grind exceedingly flno ,
and conclusions are ultimately reached ,
pitiless as the climax of a Greek trage
dy , where the idea of doom or fate
scarcely wears a mask. The decadence
of Spain impresses us in this fashion
with such vividness that detestation of
the deeds and characteristics which
have accelerated the ruin lacks bitter
ness to lessen pity for its completeness.
Only three centuries ago Spain was
practically the dictator of Europe , the
most powerful people in the world , into
whose lap the gold and silver of a new
world poured in a ceaseless stream and
against whom other nations found it
necessary to combine for safety as
against a public enemy. The elements
which caused Spanish decay began (
do their fatal work oven when the power
which was welded under the gieat
Charles V was at its height. Religious
bigotry , which crushed all thought and
made education a farce ; political intolerance
erance , which disdained the rights of
other nations as a matter of principle
and even made oppression a virtue ;
commercial blindness , which saw profit
alone in an iron restriction of trade ;
haughtiness of caste , which looked on
the masses as merely serviceable tools ;
pride so petrified as to revolt against
any instruction from the contemporary
progress of other peoples all these evil
factors have been dominant in Spanish
life for three centuries and still show
their enfeebled but convulsive energies
Spain ban learned nothing , forgotten
nothing. The whole world has been
moving on She has limped backward
She has lost successively her great colonial
nial possessions and become the mere
shell of a nation. Fate has chosen the
newest of the great powers to deal the
final coup , the stroke of the matador
Unwillingly as the United States became
came the instrument of destiny it maybe
bo a compensating thought that it is ii
the pulverization of Spanish power and
its present conditions that a now life
may find its birth , as French life found
its renewal from the debris of the revo
lution of 17S9. Decay and death pre
cede regeneration in political as in nat
ural life.
* " * " - . .
Some of the most curious of lawsuits
have grown out of inheritance cases
where husband and wife have perished
in a common catastrophe. The issue has
been to determine whether husband
or wife died first , thus fixing the line of
inheritance for the relations of one or
the other. Such a case has sprung from
the Bourgogno disaster , involving the
disposition of some $30,000. The presumption -
sumption in such cases in absence of
proof is always against the wife , as being -
ing the party of naturally inferior
The prize ring is still in evidence
with its batteries of fists and bellowing
of loud mouthed braggarts. It is a no
ticeable fact , however , that while near
ly all trades , professions and ranks of
society are represented in the ranks gal
lantly risking life for national dignity
and honor , not a single IJLOWU pugilist
has gone to the front. These "flash"
gentry find fisticuffs far moro safe and
profitable. Such vermin naturally dis
like the purring of the Mausers.
Mr. Cuuniughamo-Graham , a well
known British "crank" and an ox-M.
P. , has written to the St. James Ga
zette , charging that the adicmihlo pre
cision of Dowoy's gunnery in the Manila
battle was duo to British deserters , de
coyed from the China fleet by high
Wf.ges. Now he will probably add that
Sampson's marksmen ran away from
British men-o'-war at Halifax and Nas
Missionaries are getting ready to sow
their seed where the war plow has gone
in advance. It has been said that the
usual sequence is , first , the missionary
and then the bayonet. The present case
reverses the procedure. Lot us hope that
the questionable third term of the series ,
multiplication of rum drinking , will
not fulfill the triad.
Mexican newspapers are speculating
over the push of the great republic
Asiaward. They believe it will make
San Francisco a second Now York and
create a chain of prosperous ports along
the Pacific coast , some of which will
fatten under the Mexican eagle.
The magnificent record made b >
American warships in the actual oxi
geucios of battle has greatly impressed
foreign observers. Already indications
of large government orders from abroad
are in the air , one of the commercial
fruits of war. Though wo appreciate
the compliment , wo might hint that our
achievement has boon a matter of brain
mottle as well as of gun metal , armor
plate and machinery.