« ZurückWeiter »
ing away every pretext for breaking his will. A few hours before his death, he said to the physician in attendance : “I confirm every disposition in my will, especially that concerning my slaves whom I have manumitted, and for whom I have made provision.” The doctor, soon after, took leave of him, and was about to depart. “You must not go,” said he, “ you cannot, you shall not leave me.” He told his servant not to let the doctor go, and the man immediately locked the door and put the key in his pocket. The doctor remonstrating, Mr. Randolph explained, that, by the laws of Virginia, in order to manumit slaves bỹ will, it was requisite that the master should declare his will in that particular in the presence of a white witness, who, after hearing the declaration, must never lose sight of the party until he is dead. The doctor consented, at length, to remain, but urged that more witnesses should be sent for. This was done. At ten in the morning, four gentlemen were ranged in a semicircle round his bed. He was propped up almost in a sitting posture, and a blanket was wrapped round his head and shoulders. His face was yellow, and extremely emaciated; he was very weak, and it required all the remaining energy of his mind to endure the exertion he was about to make. It was evident to all present that his whole soul was in the act, and his eye gathered fire as he performed it. Pointing toward the witnesses with that gesture which for so many years had been familiar to the House of Representatives, he said, slowly and distinctly : “I confirm all the directions in my will respecting my slaves, and direct them to be enforced, particularly in regard to a provision for their support.” Then, raising his hand and placing it upon the shoulder of his servant, he added, “ Especially for this man.” Having performed this act, his mind appeared relieved, but his strength immediately left him, and in two hours he breathed his last.
The last of the Randolphs, and one of the best representatives of the original masters of Virginia, the high-toned Virginia gentleman, was no more. Those men had their opportunity, but they had not strength of character equal to it. They were tried and found wanting. The universe, which loves not the high-toned, even in violins, disowned them, and they perished. Cut off from the life-giving current of thought and feeling which kept the rest of Christendom advancing, they came to love stagnation, and looked out from their dismal, isolated pool with lofty contempt at the gay and active life on the flowing stream. They were not teachable, for they despised the men who could have taught them. But we are bound always to consider that they were subjected to a trial under which human virtue has always given way, and will always. Sudden wealth is itself sufficient to spoil any but the very best men, — those who can instantly set it at work for the general good, and continue to earn an honest livelihood by faithful labor. But those tobacco lords of Virginia, besides making large fortunes in a few years, were the absolute, irresponsible masters of a submissive race. And when these two potent causes of effeminacy and pride had worked out their proper result in the character of the masters, then, behold! their resources fail. Vicious agriculture exhausts the soil, false political economy prevents the existence of a middle class, and the presence of slaves repels emigration. Proud, ignorant, indolent, dissolute, and in debt, the dominant families, one after another, passed away, attesting to the last, by an occasional vigorous shoot, the original virtue of the stock. All this poor John Randolph represented, and was.
Virginia remains. Better men will live in it than have ever yet lived there; but it will not be in this century, and possibly not in the next. It cannot be that so fair a province will not be one day inhabited by a race of men who will work according to the laws of nature, and whom, therefore, the laws of nature will co-operate with and preserve. How superior will such Virginians be to what Dr. Francis Lieber styles the
provincial egotism” of state sovereignty !
ART. VII. –THE MECHANICS OF MODERN NAVAL WARFARE.
THERE is an astonishing discrepancy, of late, in the relative progress of military science and the science of naval warfare; and the advantage is with the latter. How many new methods, even, (for it would be difficult to recount any new principle,) have been introduced into the military art within the last century? Various sorts of rifled ordnance, giving longer range; new explosive projectiles; the new device of hasty field fortifications, taught by the earthwork fighting of the Southern Rebellion; some improvements in the details of quartermaster and commissary departments, and in the transportation of troops, by the use of railroads in war; perhaps, also, bolder experiments with movable infantry columns, as of Wellington in the Peninsula, the Allies in the Crimea, and Sherman in Georgia, though they, even, were not strictly unprecedented;these, and such as these, make up the record. We find ourselves, accordingly, prosecuting war on substantially the same basis as of old, with the same tactics and logistics, as well as the same strategic principles. We must travel back to the introduction of gunpowder before we find a revolutionary era. Our campaigns are modelled on Napoleon's, Frederic's, nay, on the campaigns of Marlborough, Turenne, and Gustavus Adolplus. We try recent exploits by ancient standards, and feel safe only when stayed up by the canons of tried and admitted authority.
Not so, however, with modern naval science. It has been, not changed, not improved, but absolutely revolutionized within half a century. During the last fifty years, and under the observation of most of those who read these pages, maritime warfare has become a thing so essentially different from what it was before, that the old heroes of the quarter-deck — Blake, De Ruyter, Van Tromp, Vernon, and even Jervis, Duncan, and Nelson — would not now, if recalled to earth, recognize their own profession. These changes, few in number, are yet fundamental. The science of ship-building and the science of ship-fighting have both been reconstructed since the dawn of our century. The whole motive-power of war-vessels is
changed; so is the theory of attack and resistance. New principles of harbor defence, and of the protection of coastlines in maritime countries, all over the world, have been discovered. And as for ocean combats, Trafalgar or the Nile might as well be as old in history as Salamis, so far as their scientific lessons will avail in future contests. Indeed, it is questionable whether the vapaxía of the classical Greeks be not a more profitable study, in some regards, than the deeds of the doughty admirals of Spain and Holland. Now, at all events, our new science begins to aim at the points sought by the old, though from a different quarter. We ram, in fighting, if nothing better can be accomplished, as the ancients did with their galley-beaks, and we protect our motive-power from hostile missiles, as the Greeks and Romans shielded their banks of oars..
Moreover, the phenomena of modern naval warfare have entirely disordered the prestige and relative positions of leading maritime nations, and assigned them a new relative rank. While the advance in military science has been deliberate and tolerably uniform the world over, the naval changes have been comparatively sudden, and thorough. Accordingly, it is the developments of naval science which have chiefly affected the comparative relations of every state in Europe and America which has a coast-line. This is especially true of Russia, England, France, Sweden, Italy, and the United States; and the fact may serve to account, mechanically and practically, and perhaps quite as well as the hypothesis of the Palmerstonian policy, for the recent extraordinary decline of Great Britain in prestige. England was once, but is no longer, the mistress of the seas. There lies the key of her modern state policy.
So vast is the influence exercised on the fortunes of empires and commonwealths by the progress of naval warfare, that we propose to trace the introduction and influence of its chief new features, touching, as exclusively as may be, on the main points, without trying to describe tentative, unsuccessful, or merely auxiliary processes.
The revolution which has taken place during the last fifty years in the science of naval warfare, by the introduction of entirely new systems of naval construction and armament, has been wrought by three great agents. These are, first, horizontal shell-firing from the artillery of war-vessels; secondly, the use of steam, or, more strictly, of the screw-propeller, as a naval motor; thirdly, the application of iron armor to prevent the entrance of hostile shot and shell. Perhaps submarine warfare with torpedoes might properly be added.
Each of these three prime agents, shells, steam, and iron armor, on its appearance, instantly produced radical changes in the form and battery of war-vessels. The introduction of shells, for example, diminished number in naval artillery, but increased calibre. Frigates with two tiers of heavy ordnance at length took the place of those huge gun-boxes called line-ofbattle ships. Long before the beginning of the Southern Rebellion, this latter species of naval craft was, in the eyes of good judges, obsolete. But the correctness of the theory which rests on the use of the large-calibre shell-gun was never so pointedly demonstrated to popular sight as by the late action between the Kearsarge and Alabama, when the missiles from the former's eleven-inch smooth-bores made great chasms in the side of her opponent. Again, the introduction of steam into war-vessels makes naval movements independent of the fickle wind, and gives them mechanical precision. It was first erroneously looked upon as auxiliary to sails; now the sails are but auxiliary to the screw-propeller. It is almost needless to say that the use of steam as a motor has now become an essential element in the construction of all war-vessels whatever ; at one swoop overthrowing, accordingly, the rules and laws of warfare which, less than half a century since, governed the navies of the world. Sails may continue to be used in ordinary cruising, from motives of economy; and even when a vessel is under steam high speed is not always required. Nevertheless, high speed is a sine qua non in times of exigency. The naval warfare of the future has been reduced, apparently, by the introduction of iron-clads, to two classes of vessels : first, impregnable and tremendous engines of war, to cover with impenetrable shield a nation's coast and harbors, and to batter down, if occasion requires, the coastwise defences of its enemy; secondly, light ocean guerillas, fleet-winged cruisers, scouring the seas at