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MY WORKING LIFE. By Colonel Lord Sydenham of Combe. John Murray, London.
Reviewed by Captain Thomas G. Frothingham, U.S.R.
This book is well named, for it is the record of a life spent in working for the British Empire—a “working life” wholeheartedly devoted to the best developments of Britain’s world wide interests. The book covers the eventful epochs of history from the seventies until the present day, and any officer who reads this straightforward narrative of service will get a better idea of what the British Empire means to the world than can be found in the volumes of many libraries.
The author is best known in the United States as Colonel George Sydenham Clarke, and his books and articles have won wide recognition in this country. He was given his peerage as Lord Sydenham for his many distinguished services to Great Britain, especially in regard to the Imperial dominions.
Lord Sydenham’s first sentence will appeal to Americans: “I was born on Independence Day in the revolutionary year 1848, and it has several times happened to me to join Americans in celebrating their great anniversary.” His choice for a profession was Woolwich and the Royal Engineers. He was first of his class, and his standing made him suitable for a position offered to “a young R.E. officer to teach practical geometry and engineering drawing at the new college at Coopers Hill, to meet the requirements of the Indian Public Works Department.” This assignment, in 1871, occupied the years when he was a subaltern, and, as Lord Sydenham expresses it, “an apparent accident changed everything.” This is a statement of fact, because these nine years gave him an opportunity for scientific study and original research at the very time when the usual life of an officer in the British Army was a matter of formal routine, as the years following the Franco- Prussian War were very unprogressive in the services.
But, instead of falling into the conventionalized ruts, this young officer, who was commissioned Captain Clarke in 1880, had already made his mark in his profession, and his writings had shown that he was qualified to be a technical expert. Consequently, in 1882, he was ordered to Alexandria “to make a detailed report on the defenses, and the effect of the fire of the fleet upon them. Thus, at the age of thirty-four my first independent public task came to me, as a result of the impression produced by my study of Plevna upon Major General Sir Andrew Clarke, lately appointed Inspector-General of Fortifications.” This important duty Captain Clarke performed in a way that was far ahead of his times.
He cut loose from commonly accepted ideas, and brought in a report which was adverse to ships’ guns when used in bombardment against guns on land. “The next ten years will doubtless see a considerable development of the power of ships’ guns; but the offensive strength of coast works will advance pari passu, and the ships themselves will continue to labor under certain disadvantages which cannot be obviated and have not been sufficiently recognized.” This sentence from Captain Clarke’s report of 1882 is as true today as it was then. If only this warning had been heeded, when, in 1915, the delusion as to ships’ guns was revived and brought about the attempt to force the Dardanelles by means of the fleet alone, the fiasco at the Dardanelles would have been avoided. As Lord Sydenham has written, in this regard, “The moral is that the successful conduct of war may turn upon the mastery by its directors of the lessons of the past.”
This Alexandria report had put Captain Clarke in touch with the Navy as well as the Army, and from this time on his studies were of value to both services. It will be interesting to officers of the United States Navy to note that, while making his investigations at Alexandria, Captain Clarke met the late Rear Admiral Caspar F. Goodrich, then Commander Goodrich, who was on a similar mission for the United States Navy. Captain Clarke gave Commander Goodrich all the help in his power, and this was the beginning of a life-long friendship. After finishing his work at Alexandria, Captain Clarke studied the Tel-el-Kebir campaign. His comment showed his progressive trend of mind: “To me the time spent in Egypt was a period of intensive education. Professionally it proved invaluable, not only on the technical side, but as a revelation of some of our military defects which I tried to follow up in later years.” In 1883 Captain Clarke joined the fortification branch of the office of inspector-general of fortifications.
He has written his disapproval of the atrophy in the services at this time. “In artillery progress, owing to our obstinate rejection of breech-loading, we were rapidly falling behind the times. Worst of all, the strength of the Navy had been allowed to decline to a dangerous extent, and a great effort to enlighten the public was necessary in order to bring about the Naval Defense Act of 1889, by which the fleet was at length restored to the standard subsequently maintained and was able to prove the salvation of the Empire in 1914-1918. . . . .I brought to my new post some strong convictions with regard to the Empire, the Navy, fixed defenses and their mutual relations.” Captain Clarke was convinced that in Great Britain “Fortification had become highly conventionalized,” and it was his “ambition to try to develop a school of thought in regard to the broad aspects of national defense and security founded upon the teachings of the past.” He saw to it “that a naval officer should be permanently attached to the office.”
All this was laying the train for the reform of which there was so great need and the need was emphasized by the deficiencies made evident in the Sudan campaigns. From his own observations of these operations, Lord Sydenham has written: “I reached some strong conclusions as to the defects of our staff system, which stood openly revealed in the Boer War and were not remedied till 1904.” And he devoted every possible energy to a long uphill fight for reform. In 1885 he became secretary to the colonial defense committee, of which he has stated: “It was a small beginning of Imperial organization.” In 1888 he was secretary of a royal commission to inquire into the administration of the naval and military departments. Of the work of this commission he has written: “If the recommendations of this strong commission had been carried out, the course of the South African War nine years later would have been very different. Influences which I never fathomed prevented anything from being done.”
In this period, Major Clarke was given many missions abroad to study fortification and ordnance. In 1888 he came to the United States to report upon the Zalinshi pneumatic gun. In 1890 he was asked by the King of Belgium to make “an independent report” on the new Brialmont fortifications of the Meuse, and he “made a detailed examination of the positions of Liege, Namur, and Antwerp.” His unfavorable report was “resented by General Brialmont,” but Lord Sydenham has every right to say that it “proved strangely prophetic,” as these defenses were useless in 1914. At this stage, he also did a great deal of writing, both on technical subjects and in urging his reforms. In 1890 he published the first edition of his book, Fortification, Past, Present, and Future, which is a work highly valued in this country.
Hostility in the War Office toward the colonial defense committee brought about the dismissal of Major Clarke from the committee, and he was ordered to Malta in 1892. This was a depressing setback for his cherished aims. But, in 1894, he was appointed superintendent of the gun carriage ordnance factories at Woolwich, and this gave him the opportunity to carry out changes in gun mountings, to do away with the “too cumbrous” types then in use. But the South African War made so evident the defects of British organization, that at last the way was made clear for the reform.
The chief evil had been the mistaken policy of centralizing the powers of the War Office in the commander-in-chief. This had grown out of all bounds under the regime of Lord Wolseley. As Lord Sydenham has expressed it, “Centralization at the War Office had now reached its zenith, and there was nothing comparable to it in any other system. . . . . The War Office had become an enormous bottle with a narrow neck represented by the Adjutant-General and the Commander-in-Chief.” In 1901 Colonel Clarke became a member of the “War Office Reorganization Committee,” and the committee brought in a strong report. (May, 1901.) This made a marked impression, but the time was not yet ripe for an overturn of the system which had taken such deep root. As Lord Sydenham has stated, “Some few of our recommendations were accepted, but needed to be reasserted and developed in 1904, when the powerful leverage of the Elgin Commission could be turned to account.”
After completing his work on this committee, Colonel Clarke received well deserved recognition for his services in colonial affairs, as he was made governor of Victoria. This gave him important duties in Australia at the eventful time “when the Commonwealth was beginning to get into its stride.” His account of Australia is most interesting, and it is evident that his ideas of an Imperial Federation were prophetic. Colonel Clarke was called back suddenly from Australia in November, 1903, by a summons which meant the fruition of his long years of efforts for reform in the War Office. Lord Esther, Admiral Fisher, and Colonel Clarke were made a committee of three “to advise on the reorganization of the War Office.”
Lord Sydenham’s accounts of his labors in the ensuing years are worthy of study— efforts to bring about “a Council of Imperial Defense, the creation of a real General Staff, and drastic decentralization.” This part of the book is an important contribution in the history of the Empire—political, military, and naval. In 1907 Colonel Clarke was to be sent to India with a commission “on the decentralization question,” but, instead, was appointed to the important office of governor of Bombay. The account of his work in India is another instructive picture of the British Empire and its dominions over the seas. Colonel Clarke was in hearty sympathy with the Native States, but he was strongly against the revolutionary movements which were already doing harm.
The subsequent events in India have proved that he was right in this opposition, and Lord Sydenham is justified in his claim: “History records nothing which can approach the British achievements in India, and the world will never see the like again. Si Monumentum quacris circumspice. Turkey, China, Persia and Afghanistan give some idea of the position in which India would have stood today, but for what Mr. Gandhi regards as ‘the Satanic Government.’”
Upon his return to Great Britain in 1913, Lord Sydenham was given his peerage. This was the end of his active government service of forty-five years—but by no means the end of his “working life” for the British Empire. As he has stated, “the world was hastening towards its greatest tragedy, and in England there were few warning voices.” In the World War period, Lord Sydenham remained indefatigable in his efforts for his country. In the House of Lords, in the press and other publications, in organizations and commissions, his is a record of help for all means of carrying the war to a successful aim, and of combat against the illusions which were stumbling blocks in the path.
He had always opposed the “invasion scare” which was so constant a detriment to Great Britain throughout the World War, by keeping uselessly in Great Britain, “for home defense,” great numbers of troops which were needed on the battlefield. He early saw the harm done by the failure to shut off supplies from enemy countries, and he was a strong advocate of the precedents of blockade established in the Civil War. Eventually, it was only by applying these principles that an effective blockade was established, after long and costly delays. He was also quick to detect the malign influences at work under the surface to weaken his nation.
Since the war, he has kept up his fight against the propaganda of these same hostile elements, now working under the guise of revolutionary socialism. And his last chapters are warnings against the dangers of their encroachments. Lord Sydenham’s “working life” has been devoted to building up the British Empire and its defenses, His career preaches this text, and his example, his experience, and his warnings will undoubtedly have an effect upon those who stand for the British Empire.
LINE OF POSITION BOOK.
By Lieutenant Commander P. V. H. Weems, U.S. Naval Institute. $2.50, also separate Diagram $.80.
The Line of Position Book by Lieutenant Commander Weems, published by the U. S. Naval Institute, is a most excellent example of what may be accomplished in the reduction in size of navigational tables. This little volume of only forty-four six by ten inch pages contains all that is necessary, except the data in the Nautical Almanac, for the determination of celestial lines of position at sea or in the air.
The method of computation employed is remarkable for its simplicity, the only calculations required for obtaining the calculated altitude being one arithmetical and two algebraic additions entirely free of interpolations. The azimuth is obtained easily and accurately by means of a diagram occupying only four pages of the book.
Computation of the line of position is extremely rapid. After calculation of the local hour angle (which is common to all methods), the reviewer has been able to average a calculated and plotted line in less than two minutes, and this with very little practice. The newcomer to the book may be disagreeably surprised at first noting the apparent length of the calculations shown in the illustrative problems given, but it should be remembered that more than two-thirds of this space is devoted to calculation of the local hour angle and to the application of the necessary corrections to the observed altitude. It is unfortunate that Commander Weems failed to include at least one problem illustrating the short methods
of calculating the hour angle and of reducing the altitude which are permissible to the aerial navigator, for the advantages of his method would then be more apparent.
Unlike most short navigational methods this one does not sacrifice accuracy. The method does lose accuracy somewhat when the observed body is near the horizon or the zenith but as these are cases which the navigator naturally avoids because of the difficulty of getting good sextant readings, it does not militate against the method.
To the best of the reviewer’s knowledge Commander Weems’s book is the first which takes definite cognizance of the needs of the aerial navigator. The tables for the reduction of the observed altitude include special columns for the correction of bubble sextant sights. These columns are applicable to sights taken with such sextants as the Bureau of Standards (U. S. Navy), Willson Octant, or Noel Davis sextant, which instruments give altitudes of the sun’s center. The book also gives the height of eye correction for altitudes to one thousand feet and is, therefore, of use to an aviator who is using an ordinary sextant on the sea horizon. An “Aviator’s Speed-Time- Distance Table” and a “Course Correction Table,” which latter gives the angle of drift for various wind directions and forces, are also included for use in aerial dead reckoning.
The book is in no sense a textbook on navigation. It presupposes a knowledge of the elements of the science of navigation and contains only enough explanation to illustrate the particular method used. The author has kept very close to his subject, the line of position of the practical navigator, and has omitted all tables or arrangements which partake more of the nature of astronomy, surveying or mathematical acrobatics. For these reasons one who is properly based in navigation will appreciate the compactness, directness, and simplicity of Commander Weems’s work.
In view of the increasing use of the bubble sextant in aerial navigation and of the natural desire of the ship’s navigator to do his day’s work with as little mental wear and tear as is necessary, the Line of Position Book is recommended to both seamen and aviators. It deserves to be popular.
AN AMERICAN SOLDIER AND DIPLOMAT—HORACE PORTER.
By Elsie Porter Mende in collaboration with Henry Greenleaf Pearson, Frederick A. Stokes Co., 443 Fourth Avenue, New York, Price $5.00.
This summary of the life of General Horace Porter, published in September, 1927, cannot fail to be of interest to every naval officer and citizen. It has been compiled by his daughter, Elsie Porter Mende, who, after his death, presented the Naval Academy with General Porter’s portrait which now hangs in Memorial Hall.
General Porter, throughout his fourscore years, was a soldier, business man, representative citizen, writer, orator and diplomat. He was born in Pennsylvania, April I5. 1837, and prepared for college at Lawrenceville. He was recommended for appointment to West Point by the then Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis. His was a notable career at West Point. Besides being honored by the position of adjutant of the corps, he graduated number three in his class. During the Civil War which followed, he distinguished himself at the Battle of Chickamauga for which he received the medal of honor. Following this, he later became aide on the staff of General Grant. At this time General Grant wrote a letter to General Halleck as follows:
Captain Horace Porter, who is now being relieved as chief ordnance officer in the Department of the Cumberland, is represented by all officers who know him as one of the most meritorious and valuable young officers in the service. So far as I have heard from general officers there is a universal desire to see him promoted to the rank of brigadier-general and retained here. I feel no hesitation in joining in the recommendation, and ask that he may be assigned for duty with me. I feel the necessity for just such an officer as Captain Porter is described to be, at headquarters, and, if permitted, will retain him with me if assigned here for duty. I am, etc.
His experience with Generals Grant and Meade was most varied and he had the opportunity of observing the work of the leaders on both the Union and Confederate sides during the memorable campaigns of 1864. His close association with General Grant made it possible for him to later write his book Campaigning With Grant. After the war, as a colonel, he was stationed in the War Department and later became secretary to President Grant. In his close friendship and loyalty to President Grant,
General Porter was a powerful figure at the White House. It gave him experience in big affairs—national and international— ‘which was invaluable to him in later years. And during the last sad days of General Grant’s life—with his health and fortune gone—no truer friend remained than General Porter. He alone is responsible for the drive which was successfully made to obtain funds for building the monument to Grant on Riverside Drive, New York.
In the nineties General Porter became one of the most prominent citizens of New York City. As president of the Union League Club and as one of the best known after- dinner speakers in America, no occasion or dinner was complete without him. His addresses made at the dedication of the Washington Arch in 1894, at Grant’s Tomb in 1897, and the Centennial address at West Point in 1902 were especially notable—the latter of which in the appendix is well worth reading. The story of his ambassadorship in France, coming as it did on the eve of the Spanish-American War, and his efforts which brought about the finding of the body of our naval hero, John Paul Jones, form interesting chapters.
During President Roosevelt’s administration, General Porter took an active interest in the Navy, becoming president of the Navy League in 1909 when he witnessed the return of the Atlantic fleet from its cruise around the world. In fact, from 1906 until the time of his death, it seems that he was fighting for a bigger Navy and promoting this spirit throughout the country. He was instrumental in obtaining the appropriation for the tomb of John Paul Jones at Annapolis, and, following this, became a delegate to the second peace conference at The Hague in 1907. With the Navy League, even though advanced in years, he took an active part in urging the huge naval program in 1915 before America entered the World War.
The story of his life is one which sets a high standard for the men of today to follow. It was one of service to his fellow citizens and his country. Imbued with the spirit of West Point and with a splendid background of military and diplomatic training, he was one of those outstanding officers, citizens and diplomats who lived to make the United States a greater nation. As he approached the end in 1921, and reflected upon the honors which had come to him during his active eighty-four years, he said, “But all that doesn’t count for so much in the long run. What really counts is to be at peace with one’s self. A clear conscience is what is most conducive to sound sleep. I’m sitting here waiting for taps, and when it is sounded they’ll find me ready.”
EVERY DAY LIFE IN THE NAVY.
Autobiography of Rear Admiral Albert S.
Barker, Richard G. Badger. Boston. $5.00.
Reviewed by Captain Dudley W. Knox, U. S. Navy (Retired)
This autobiography, covering a period from 1859 to 1905, teems with incidents taken from the Admiral’s diary and gives an unusually clear insight into a phase of naval history which should prove of great interest to the generation of today.
Admiral Barker began a very active career in 1861, when, after graduation from the Naval Academy, he joined the U.S.S. Mississippi and took part in the early blockade of Confederate Gulf ports. As one of the largest of Farragut’s squadron she was conspicuous in the passage up the Mississippi River past Forts Jackson and St. Philip, the capture of New Orleans and the first run past Port Hudson. During the latter operation the Mississippi grounded close to Confederate batteries and had to be abandoned, after being set on fire by the executive officer, Lieutenant Dewey. Barker continued active river service in the Monongahela until the summer of 1863 when he went north to recuperate his health. From 1864 to 1867 he served in the Pacific on board the Lancaster, which was present at the bombardment of Callao by the Spanish fleet.
While in command of the Enterprise Barker made a notable cruise around the world (1882-86) in which almost every variety of naval experience was encountered. Scientific data were collected for the Navy and the Smithsonian Institution, and include a globe encircling line of deep-sea soundings. At Madagascar the murder of an American citizen was investigated for the State Department, which also had requested reports on consuls at Zanzibar and other places. In the Straits of Sunda “we were passing through large quantities of drifting pumice stone and floating uprooted trees and other debris, with occasionally dead bodies of men and animals. . . . . Some blocks of pumice were larger than a bushel basket.” Meeting a Dutch man-of-war Barker was informed of the “appalling eruption of Krakatoa, accompanied by an earthquake and tidal wave . . . . the Bezee Channel had been blocked up . . . . the town of Angier had been utterly destroyed and there was so much pumice stone in the water that vessels could not communicate with the shore.” The Enterprise remained in this vicinity several weeks rendering such assistance as was possible.
After a winter in Korea, the Enterprise went to China and was present at the Pagoda Anchorage when the French fleet bombarded the Chinese forts and ships at that place.
Within less than five minutes from the time the first gun was fired the Chinese flagship .... was blown up and sunk by a French torpedo boat. We saw a high column of water with smoke envelop the vessel which staggered, careened, and slowly went to the bottom. It was a sad sight, but it showed the destructive force of the torpedo. . . . . Another Chinese vessel, the one nearest to the Enterprise, was sunk by a shell. In a comparatively few minutes after the fire became general there was a dense cloud of smoke over the river and arsenal, shutting them from sight, but we could hear the rattling of machine guns, the bursting of shell and the discharge of cannon. . . . . The havoc was terrible. Hundreds upon hundreds (of Chinese) jumped into the river to escape from the burning vessels. . . . . They took their chances of being drowned, where the current was strong and the water muddy.
On the return to the United States the Enterprise ran a “farthest south” line of soundings between New Zealand and Magellan Strait.
In 1894, while in command of the Philadelphia, Barker spent several very stirring months in Honolulu during the critical period preliminary to the formation of a republic, while a Royalist revolution, encouraged by European influence, was imminent. Early in 1898, during the period of strained relations with Spain, and for some time after the outbreak of war, he was a member of the war board which advised the President and the Secretary of the Navy upon naval policy and strategy. In May he took command of the cruiser Newark, and was present at the bombardment of Santiago by the American fleet.
After the Spanish-American War Barker succeeded to the command of the Oregon and took her, together with several other vessels, to Manila, where he relieved Dewey in command of American naval forces on the Asiatic Station. This duty was followed by a tour as commandant of the New York navy yard, during which he gained eminence as a speaker at many functions in the metropolis.
Admiral Barker’s administration as commander-in-chief of the North Atlantic fleet (1903-05) was notable for extensive maneuvers and exercises which brought the fleet to a very high state of efficiency.
The book often deals in events of more than ordinary importance and gains force from its simple and unbiased style. It was prepared by the Admiral in the belief that the public interests would benefit from a wider and more accurate knowledge of the Everyday Life in the Navy. Throughout its pages there is unconsciously recorded inspiring evidence of a splendid personality, of a fine Christian officer and gentleman who has more than done his part to make the Navy what it was and what it is today.
FROM CARRACK TO CLIPPER, A BOOK OF SAILING SHIP MODELS
By Frank C. Bowen, 1927. $5. London: Halton and Truscott Smith, Ltd. New York: Minton, Balch and Company.
The current popular interest in old sailing ships and sailing ship models is undoubtedly responsible for the writing and publication of the book, From Carrack to Clipper, by Frank C. Bowen, author of The Golden Age of Sail, and The Sea: Its History and Romance. The book will make a worthy addition to the library of the sailing ship enthusiasts, many of whom can be found in the naval service, as it is perhaps the first really valuable book on the subject to be offered at a reasonable price. The introductory chapter states that “Two or three expensive books on the subject have been
Published. . . . . there are many model enthusiasts who cannot afford to pay such prices either on their hobby itself or on books about it.” There have also been many low priced books on the subject which are disappointing because of their lack of photographs, and their hasty sketches. From Carrack to Clipper compares favorably with the expensive volumes, and does the subject justice at a price which almost any interested person can afford.
The size of the book is six by nine inches, printed in large, clear type on stout paper, bound in dark blue stamped with gold. The frontispiece and three other full page plates are in colors. The text comprises the first sixty-two pages and is well interspersed with detail sketches. Among the chapter headings are: Early Types, Carracks and Caravels, The Development of Sail Plan, Improved Masting, Guns and Gunnery, Merchantmen and Men of War, Decoration, Canvas, Spars, Rigging, Speed, Comparative Design. Each subject is dealt with in a concise and interesting description.
Following the text are sixty-seven full page half-tone plates of historic and other ship models, which are a pleasure to study. They represent ships of all types within the period covered by the title of the book. Historic ships in the series include the Santa Maria, the Half Moon, the Hollandia (de Ruyter’s flagship), H.M.S. Victory, the Marblehead schooner Rebecca, and the America. There are also other American, English, French, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, and Spanish ships. The clear cut, close-up photographs could not be improved upon.
The last few pages of the book are devoted to a list of museums containing ship models. There are forty-five such institutions listed by countries, the American section including a paragraph concerning the Navy’s own museum at the Naval Academy.
The writer feels that the only shortcoming of the author is his failure to include a model of “Old Ironsides,” but he also believes that any lover of ship models will derive a very keen pleasure from the possession of the book.
A. R. McC.
COMMAND AND DISCIPLINE.
By Vice-Admiral Sir Herbert W. Richmond, K.C.B., Commandant of the Imperial Defence College, London. Edward Stanford, Ltd. 186 pp.
Here is a book that one can conveniently slip into one’s pocket, and beguile a train journey of four or five hours. This is true not only because of size, but because the reading will engender reflection of a type to which gazing out of car windows seems the fitting accompaniment. Briefly it consists solely of quotations from military and naval writers of various periods arranged by chapters under the two general heads of “Command” and of “Discipline.” The extracts are of two sorts: those that call for some pondering; and others that may be passed over lightly but which are not without value as salting the whole.
The author is well known for his distinguished success in his profession. He has recently become commandant of the Imperial Defense College where his task is to guide officers from the three armed forces of the British Commonwealth in reaching a common doctrine for the conduct of war.
In reviewing a book of this sort there is always the temptation to quote too much, especially where most of the quotations are refreshingly unhackneyed. The true task of the reviewer is where he believes the work of value, to quote enough to whet the appetite of the reader. This balance is the measure of his success. It is unusual to find Shakespeare present in connection with command, but considering the universality of his genius it is not surprising.
They call this bed-work, mappery, closet-war,
So that the ram that batters down the wall.
For the great swing and rudeness of his poise,
They place before his hand that made the engine:
Or those that with the fineness of their souls
By reason guide his execution.
(Troilus and Cressida. Act I, Sc. 3.)
This quotation read in the next breath with such a modern as Baudry, “La Bataille Navale,” shows how ever present is the problem of materialism. “The good specialist officer tends too easily to acquire a particular, if not a particularist, point of view. The good mechanic becomes only too often the attentive servant of his instrument. In order to command, the spirit of analysis and attention to minutiae must be replaced by one of a synthetic and broad type.”
The subject of discipline is treated as well historically as otherwise. Our forbears were not perplexed with the arguments of the behaviorist school of psychology. They shrewdly attained their goal by the two avenues of the hope of reward and the fear of punishment. “But the Boyes The Boatswaine is to see every Munday at the chest to say their compasse, and receive their punishment for all their offences, which done, they are to have a quarter can of beere, and a basket of bread, but if the Boatswaine eat or drink before he catch them, they are free.” (Captain John Smith, The Seaman’s Grammar, 1627.) In turning the boatswain out early, the sly appeal to any dormant tendency to cruelty, is not overlooked.
Let us sink as far as possible the respective titles of officers, sergeants and privates, merging them into the one great cognomen of soldier, causing all ranks to feel that it is a noble title, of which the general as well as the private may be proud. Let us give up the phrase “officer and gentleman,” substituting that of “soldier" for it; let the word officer be used as seldom as possible, so that the private may really feel that there is no gulf between him and his commander, but that they are merely separated by a ladder the rungs of which all can equally aspire to mount.
This is not an extract from the field regulations of the Red Army but a quotation from that eminent Victorian soldier, Lord Wolseley. Here is food for thought. The difficulty is to find the all embracing word. Seaman is not enough. “He must be that, of course, but also a great deal more.” The two aspects of our being, that of seaman and military man, must be combined. Navalman occurs to mind, but the term is awkward. What is wanted is one that rolls easily from the tongue.
The book is recommended to those who would start chains of thought on the all important subjects of command and discipline. In short, it is an excellent breviary for the naval profession.
E. G. S.
BLACK DEMOCRACY—The Story of Haiti. By H. P. Davis. 369 pp. New York. Lincoln MacVeagh. The Dial Press. $5.00.
Reviewed by Brigadier General George Richards, U. S. Marine Corps
This comprehensive history of the Haitian people is the work of a disinterested student of all phases of America’s problem in Haiti. Its appearance, as a publication, has been anxiously looked for, especially by those familiar with the more recent history of the so-called Republic of Haiti and interested in the success of our government’s efforts to establish conditions offering reasonable assurance that the people of Haiti will be able to maintain a stable self-government. The author possesses a rare equipment for the task he undertakes. In his twelve years of residence in Haiti he alike enjoyed the confidence of the leaders of the people of Haiti and the American officials responsible for the discharge of our treaty obligations. The author has performed a distinctive public service in placing his work before the American reader, and it is to be sincerely hoped by all true American patriots that it will leave its impress upon public opinion of today. The author has no political axe to grind.
Fully one-half of his volume is devoted to an expose of the immediate causes of the American intervention, with its later history, including its achievements and its failures. Preceding this, however, and as the background of the picture he draws of present day complications, the author traces chronologically the history of Haiti and its people from its very beginnings—the days of its discovery by Columbus in 1492. That story of Haiti roughly divides itself into at least six periods: (1) the aboriginal or pre-Columbus period; (2) the Spanish settlement following the discovery; (3) the period of French colonization and development; (4) the period of internal strife ending in slave emancipation; (5) the inauguration and history of the so-called Black Republic; and finally (6) the American intervention. The studies of each of these phases are models of fine condensation. The basic, important facts are there, and in consequence the book as a whole provides opportunity to survey the entire field under consideration. Especially valuable is the author’s vivid narrative of that turbulent history of Haiti during the seven years preceding the intervention. These tragic events of that era seem to be forgotten by the American public of today. That period Mr. Davis terms the “Period of Ephemeral Governments;” an era punctuated by recurrent insurrections, revolutions, assassinations, and otherwise distinguished by a most extraordinary series of bond issues and financial operations. These brought the Republic of Haiti into political, moral, and financial bankruptcy. These events, over which the United States not only had no control, but which it did its best to avert, compelled us under the shadow of European complications to occupy Haiti single-handed. Our immediate responsibility then was to undertake the restoration of stable government. But the United States, as the author clearly shows, cannot honorably withdraw from the task events so imposed upon us, until the administration of Haitian affairs has been so reconstructed as to afford bases, or satisfactory guarantees, not for the maintenance of internal peace alone, but more particularly for the judicious development by the people of Haiti of the correct principles of self-government.
Politically, since the independence of 1804, free Haiti failed, for itself and for its people, to establish or develop any cohesive political system. The rulers of the country were with few exceptions military despots. Constitutions without number, embodying varying principles, were adopted as new rulers appeared. Democracy, the rule of an intelligent, articulate electorate, born of the masses of Haiti, was unknown. Around those despots there grew up a group of the more intelligent, the elite, as Mr. Davis calls them, not at any time more than 2,000 in number, who represent not only public opinion in Haiti, but are in fact the rulers of the inarticulate. Haiti is not a democracy; it is an oligarchy. The author gives to the American reader a fair idea of the absolute rule this privileged class exercises over their ignorant and politically powerless fellow-countrymen. That long system of forced dependence on the caprice of those in power has produced in these masses of Haiti a mental condition the average American cannot grasp. A long enslaved people, it has been truly said, instinctively craves the strong hand of the master. And Lord Dufferin has also written : “Despotism not only destroys the seeds of liberty but renders the soil upon which it has trampled incapable of growing the plant.”
This is America’s problem! To grow there under such adverse influences the plant of self-government. And with its growth to approaching maturity, to be prepared to leave Haiti with assurance that that plant will continue to blossom perennially under the guidance of such Haitian administrators as we may be able to indoctrinate with the American ideals of self-government.
The author pleads, and this reviewer thinks he rightly advocates, that a larger share in the administration of the government of Haiti be now exercised by that class of the people he styles the elite. It is from them the rulers of Haiti were heretofore drawn. It is from them its future governmental officials must come. Practical experience for them, under our guidance, in all phases of governmental administration, should be our policy, he says. Admittedly, Mr. Davis states, that will be more expensive. Our present policy seems to be to make the meager funds allotted for current administration go as far as possible to satisfy the urgent needs of the country. Economical administration can best be had in this particular by the more responsible American official. But the ultimate aim should not be overlooked. We are to leave Haiti in safer hands, and those hands we must train now! Under present conditions, Mr. Davis says, it is impossible that a genuine and efficient democratic government can be established in Haiti before the expiration of our treaty. He adds: “But regardless of concrete results which have been achieved toward efficiency, it is clear that our present program has not tended toward the establishment of a Haitian democracy.”
The difficulties that stand in the way of America’s task in this particular, the author recognizes. The treaty, he says, for reasons best known to its framers, failed to include American supervision over public education. It likewise ignored another vitally important department—the judiciary. The lower courts of Haiti, the author states, are not only corrupt, venal and inefficient, but are generally highly partisan, anti-foreign, and particularly anti-American; a condition that has led all foreign investors to the expediency of providing, in any grants or concessions they may have procured for development of Haiti’s resources, for the adjustment of controversial matters arising thereunder by the method of “settlement out of court.” The amendments more recently adopted to the constitution of Haiti may ameliorate this condition.
As for public education, Mr. Davis writes, recently the Service Technique de l’Agriculture has taken over a program of elementary education in connection with its farm schools in certain isolated districts which have never been provided with adequate school facilities. The peasant of Haiti who has lived under that despotic system destructive of any hope for advancement, political, moral or social, has today not the faintest conception of his rights nor any knowledge of conditions outside the
neighborhood where he dwells. Popular education means much to his next generation. The founders of the American republic regarded free public schools as part of the democratic system of government. Franklin said that public schools were needed “to supply men to serve the public.” In 1920, the present commandant of the Marine Corps said: “The United States might have anticipated a failure on the part of the Haitian government to efficiently and satisfactorily perform this duty of education; the fact confronts the United States at this time that the duty has been unperformed and also that .... unless the United States does assist, the Republic of Haiti will never evolve to such a self-sustaining status that the United States would be justified in withdrawing.” While it would seem that the people of Haiti have not been endowed with the idea of good self-government, yet it would seem there is no need to imagine that the Haitian people have proved themselves impervious to all the teachings of civic morality we endeavor to practice. Nor are we justified in assuming them incapable of apprehending the axioms of government. The Haitian people are not be to condemned as forever incapable of managing their own affairs.
Mr. Davis has dealt fairly with all officers of the naval service, particularly those of the Marine Corps, whose services left an imprint upon the pages of the recent history of Haiti. His criticisms may not be welcomed by some, but that they are well intentioned and constructive cannot be denied. And constructive criticism, this reviewer would add, ought to be received with pleasure by those who have had responsibilities in relation to the problems of Haiti.
Mr. Davis’ publication will be read with interest by all students of Caribbean problems, for it is a valuable collection of facts as well as a vital narrative of the entire history of Haiti and of the Haitian people. It cannot fail to be received as a publication tending to deepen still further the respect of the American public for the endeavor of the American treaty officials to accomplish something for the good of the Republic of Haiti.