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popular Chamber, has been lamentably weakened in its efficiency of late years-weakened in the House of Commons, and weakened by the House of Commons. It might, indeed, be contended that the House of Commons of the present epoch does far more to increase the aggregate of public charge than to reduce it. It might even be a question whether the public would take benefit if the House were either intrusted annually with a great part of the initiative, so as to be really responsible to the people for the spending of their money, or else were excluded from part, at least, of its direct action upon expenditure, intrusting to the executive the application of given sums, which that executive should have no legal power to exceed.
Meantime we of this island are not great political philosophers; and we contend with an earnest, but disproportioned, vehemence about changes which are palpable, such as the extension of the suffrage, or the redistribution of parliamentary seats, neglecting wholly other processes of change which work beneath the surface, and in the dark, but which are even more fertile of great organic results. The modern English character reflects the English Constitution in this, that it abounds in paradox; that it possesses every strength, but holds it tainted with every weakness; that it seems alternately both to rise above, and to fall below, the standards of average humanity; that there is no allegation of praise or blame which, in some one of the aspects of its many-sided formation, it does not deserve; that only in the midst of much default, and much transgression, the people of this United Kingdom either have heretofore established, or will hereafter establish, their title to be reck- . oned among the children of men for the eldest-born of an imperial race.
In this imperfect survey I have carefully avoided all reference to the politics of the day and to particular topics, recently opened, which may have undergone a great development before these lines appear in print on the other side of the Atlantic. Such reference would, without any countervailing advantage, have lowered the strain of these remarks, and would have complicated with painful considerations a statement essentially impartial and general in its scope.
For the yet weightier reason of incompetency, I have avoided.
the topics of chief present interest in America, including that proposal to tamper with the true monetary creed, which the Tempter lately presented to the nation in the Silver Bill. But I will not close this paper without recording my conviction that the great acts, and the great forbearances, which immediately followed the close of the civil war, form a group which will ever be a noble object, in his political retrospect, to the impartial historian; and that, proceeding as they did from the free choice and conviction of the people, and founded as they were on the very principles of which the multitude is supposed to be least tolerant, they have, in doing honor to the United States, also rendered a splendid service to the general cause of popular government throughout the world.
July 26, 1878.
W. E. GLADSTONE.
THOUGH the invention of the submarine torpedo dates back to 1775, there is no implement of warfare that has made so little progress, considering its destructive power, or about which there are so many conflicting opinions. It is only since the year 1861 that it has been generally adopted as an engine of war, a tardiness in great measure due to the false sentimentality which, until a recent period, banned the torpedo as an inhuman and unchristian means of destroying an enemy. This sentimentality, it may be remarked, has never prevented Christians from mowing down an enemy with grape-shot and canister, or setting fire to his ships in order to roast as many of their crews as possible; hence it is difficult to see the consistency of such humane scruples.
Among the arguments urged against the introduction of the torpedo was that its use would not foster the bravery and chivalry which have characterized the naval profession, more especially that of Great Britain; and Great Britain, having the most powerful navy of the world, and claiming the title of Mistress of the Seas, did not deem it prudent to encourage a mode of warfare which would tend to place her on an equality with weaker nations. Were it not for this obvious reason, she would no doubt have given particular attention to so effectual a means of destroying an enemy, and would long ago have brought the torpedo to perfection, since, at the date of its invention, she was the leading nation in the mechanical arts, and her inventors would soon have overcome the difficulties which stood in the way of practically using this arm. Now that she sees every nation adopting the torpedo, and her splendid fleet of iron-clads imperiled, she is with characteristic energy making every effort toward the improvement of this most terrible engine of war, and
will doubtless bring it to a greater state of perfection, both for offense and defense, than it has yet attained. As the torpedo has now become a vital necessity to Great Britain, she will lose no time in adapting it to all operations of naval warfare; and as it is generally adopted among the navies of the world, she will provide effectual means of resisting it when sent against her fleets. Whatever prejudices sentimental or otherwise may once have existed against the torpedo, they have all vanished before the necessities of the time. Self-defense is the first consideration with nations as with individuals; and it is now conceded that governments subserve not only their own interests, but those of mankind, by using a weapon that will soonest decide the result of war, and which will most effectually protect their coasts.
On looking back to the War of 1812, when eighteen and twenty-four pounders were the largest guns we possessed, we wonder that nations could ever have relied on such feeble engines, or expected great results from their use. In recent years monster rifled guns have been invented, throwing upward of two thousand pounds' weight of metal, and mounted on huge floating batteries almost impervious to shot and shell. One such vessel might have destroyed all the fleets Nelson ever commanded, and have bid defiance to the works of a Vauban; it would heed the forty-two-pounders of the past about as much as an iceberg would a volley of peas.
There is no human invention that is not susceptible of improvement. This seems to be a law of Nature, by which man's inventive faculties are kept ever on the alert, and nations are advanced in the arts of war as well as of peace.
It may seem a strange thesis to maintain, that the torpedo is a beneficent invention, yet all peace-loving men should approve of it, inasmuch as it tends to preserve peace and to prevent powerful nations from trampling on their weaker neighbors. tions are not half so apt to go to war to-day as they were a few years ago when the torpedo was considered a doubtful auxiliary, quite as likely to prove disastrous to the operator as to the enemy. We have seen the caution with which England and Russia watched each other during the crisis of the Eastern Question, and the wily game both played. Time was when Britannia would have struck a blow first and treated afterward; but, since her
last great naval wars, which gave her victory at almost every step, new elements have been imported into warfare afloat-elements which, as a rule, meet with no particular favor among naval officers generally.
Space would fail me to describe here the various forms of the torpedo, as it has been successively modified and improved; and all that I can attempt to do within the limits of this article is to note the principal stages of its development.
As far as can be ascertained, to David Bushnell, of Connecticut, belongs the credit of the original invention of the submarine torpedo. A diving-machine, in which a man could reach the bottom of a vessel, and which he could easily manœuvre under water, carried a magazine with its appurtenances, so arranged that it could be cast off from the diving-machine, and ascend till it reached the bottom of a vessel, to which it would attach itself by means of a special contrivance. As the torpedo was arranged to go off by clock-work, time was given the occupant of the diving-machine to get out of the way. The machine, or boat device, was very perfect: the operator could swim so far below the surface that he could approach a vessel at night without fear of discovery, could ascend and descend, and visit any part of a vessel's bottom with certainty and safety. In 1776 Bushnell made an attempt to blow up the Eagle, an English sixty-four-gun ship lying off Governor's Island, in the harbor of New York. After procuring, with great difficulty, a suitable operator, he sent his machine under the ship's bottom at night, but the operator, not being skilled in the management of the boat, became confused, and in endeavoring to change his position to a part of the hull more suitable for his work, missed the ship, and had to come to the surface at some distance from her, and day breaking he was obliged to abandon the attempt. As it was blowing fresh at the time, the operator cast adrift the magazine to facilitate his escape, and, at the end of an hour-the time for which the clock was regulated-the torpedo exploded with force sufficient to have blown the Eagle to atoms had it been under her bottom. Bushnell made another attempt in 1777, from a whale-boat against the Cerberus frigate, off New London, endeavoring to throw a machine against the ship's side by means of a line. This machine accidentally came in contact with a schooner lying astern of the