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this is why it is gratifying for us as well. Moreover, do not forget the proverb, Les amis de nos amis sont nos amis. Who knows whether it will not be verified afresh 2 The views I have just given you are those which Count Lamsdorff directed me to express to M. Delcassé. It was a pleasure to me to perform this mission, and it is equally agreeable for me to give publicity to this declaration.
Admiral Rozhdestvensky, the Chief of the Russian Naval Staff in St. Petersburg, recently confided to a
A Russian - - - - - - -
consequent difficulties confronting the Russian navy." The Admiral admitted that he had been offered and had accepted the command of the Baltic squadron, but he seemed doubtful as to whether it would ever reach the Far East, although its departure on July 15 had been expressly commanded by the Emperor. There would be nothing more for the Russian navy to do by September, which was the earliest moment at which it could reach the theatre of war. By that time the Japanese would have transported sufficient troops and sufficient supplies to Korea for a long campaign, and as they possessed repairing docks for any damage their ships might suffer, it would be puerile to attempt any longer to underrate their strength. Nor did the Russian Chief of the Staff attempt to conceal his admiration at the strenuous persistence with which the enemy had pursued their policy, for they had not hesitated “to spend enormous sums for a result which at first sight seemed to be little commensurate with the effort made . . . we shall have a hard task to get the better of them.” He also paid homage to the naval tactics of Admiral Togo who had acted rightly in continually attacking Port Arthur. “While he renders our fleet at Port Arthur immobile and forces it to remain on the defensive he is inuring his own crews to their work and accustoming officers and men to action, whereby they are being trained and hardened, while our sailors, unaccustomed to this constant activity in warlike manoeuvres, are irritated and disheartened.” On the other hand, Admiral Makaroff was
made a prisoner by a condition of affairs which he had not created, and which it was beyond his power to modify. He was an excellent sailor, an expert in naval affairs, and a daring leader, but all that did not save him from having his forces held fast under Port Arthur by Admiral Togo, who, while he bombarded the fortress and secured for his crews the moral advantage of attack, gave the
* See the Petit Parisien of April 11, quoted by Times Paris Correspondent, Times, April 12.
Japanese transports time to land numerous columns of infantry in Korea in perfect safety. To the inquiry as to what should now be done, Admiral Rozhdvestvensky exclaimed, in what proved to be tragically prophetic language : We are now doing what remains to be done, we are defending the honour of the flag. It is at a previous stage that another course ought to have been adopted. Attack should have been met by attack, they should have advanced against the enemy, fought to the death—you understand me—with guns, mitrailleuses, with fists, and even with their teeth. It should have been victory or death, but in any case it was indispensable to inflict upon the enemy such loss as to have rendered the landing of troops impossible. Sacrifice the fleet if need be, but, at the same time, deliver a fatal blow to the Japanese naval power. Disembarkation would thus have become impossible. You now understand why it was essential to take the offensive at any cost. Why was it not done? Why have they not made it impossible for Togo to renew his attempt?
We had not long to wait for a justification of these The gloomy forebodings. The day after the pubCatastrophe lication of this interview with the Chief of the Naval Staff in St. Petersburg, came the startling news that the Russian flagship at Port Arthur, the battleship Petropavlovsk, had been destroyed by a mine, and had perished with nearly all hands, including the gallant Makaroff, only the Grand Duke Cyril and a handful of officers and men being saved. It was at first suggested that this fatality had been accidentally caused by a Russian mine, but it speedily transpired that the mine was a Japanese mine, and that the disaster was due to a brilliant device on the part of Admiral Togo. The operations are clearly, though briefly, recounted in the Japanese Admiral's despatch, which was published some days later, and are graphically described by the special correspondent of the Times, who appears to have been an eye-witness of the occurrence. On discovering from various sources that the entrance to Port Arthur was still open Admiral Togo determined to try and destroy the Russian fleet by the following ingenious scheme : In the first place to mine the mouth of the harbour; then to tempt the Russians out by a weak decoy squadron, while the battleship fleet lay concealed by the fog at some point on the coast sufficiently near to catch the Russians should they succeed in evading the mines. In pursuance of this plan, on the night of April 12, two divisions of destroyers and a torpedo flotilla escorting a mining vessel, the Koryo Maru, arrived off Port Arthur; and although, according to the Times correspondent, “the concentrated beams of four searchlights showed up every spar and rail of the Koryo, and although a merciless fire swept round her, she accomplished her object, and came out again undamaged without the Russians discovering her designs.” During this extraordinary enterprise one of the Japanese destroyer flotillas discovered a Russian destroyer, the Bezstraschni, trying to make the harbour, which was sunk after a ten minutes' engagement, while a second Russian destroyer was also attacked, but she managed to escape. In the words of Admiral Togo's despatch, “the third fleet (i.e., the decoy squadron) reached outside of Port Arthur at eight A.M. (April 13), when the Bayan came out and opened fire. Immediately the Novik, Askold, Diana, Petropavlovsk, Pobieda, and Poltava came out and made offensive attack upon us. Our third fleet, tardily answering and gradually retiring, enticed the enemy fifteen miles south-east of the Port, when our fleet (i.e., the main fleet), being informed through wireless telegraphy from the third fleet, suddenly appeared before the enemy and attacked them.”
Admiral Togo aimed at the annihilation of the Russian fleet, but he was not entirely successful for the reason given by the Times correspondent, viz., the untoward lifting of the mist. “When the Japanese had drawn the Russians out some fifteen miles, they indicated the situation to Admiral Togo by wireless telegraphy. Admiral Togo was, unfortunately, thirty miles away, lurking under the cover of the mist and rain squalls.” On receiving the message, he instantly signalled to the Kasuga and Nisshin to join the battleship squadron, and “went forward at full speed.” By a piece of bad luck the wind freshened at this moment, dispelling the mist, and the Russian Admiral, descrying the smoke, guessed the ruse and put
about at full steam for Port Arthur, all the Japanese ships pursuing him at their utmost speed.
It was a magnificent spectacle, but the Russians had not been enticed far enough, and they had steamed in under the protection of the forts before Admiral Togo arrived within effective range. But, as we know, Admiral Togo had more than one string to his bow, and as the flying Russian fleet reached the fairway of Port Arthur, the leading ship, the Petropavlovsk, in the words of the Times correspondent, “listed heavily, and in an incredibly short time sank. Admiral Togo's design was successful. She had struck one of the Koryo's mines.” Nor did Russian misfortunes end here, for not only, as we have seen, was a destroyer destroyed, but Prince Ukhtumsky, who temporarily assumed the command of the fleet, reported that another battleship, the Pobieda, was struck by a mine amidships on the starboard side, though “she was able to regain the port by
herself,” while a further contretemps has since been incidentally revealed, viz., the ramming of the Poltava by the Sevastopol. Of the great Russian squadron, which, on paper, was equal to that of Japan at the opening of the war, there now remain on the effective list only the battleships Sevastopol and Peresviet, together with three or four cruisers, several of which are believed to have been damaged, a few gunboats, and at the outside eighteen destroyers and torpedo-boats. In fact, the Russian Pacific Squadron may be said to have ceased to exist. It certainly cannot exercise any appreciable influence on the military operations of Japan, and Admiral Rozhdestvensky's doubts as to the future appearance of the Baltic fleet in the Far East have received melancholy confirmation. Japan is now the complete and unchallengeable mistress of the sea, which means that she will have entire liberty of action in dealing her military blows. We would remind impatient European spectators, who crave for sensational news from day to day, that the present war is not being waged for their entertainment, but for the achievement of great national ends. It is likely to last for a long time, and to be marked by many dull periods, and we shall be wise to possess our souls in patience, consoling ourselves by the reflection that when the blow falls it will be tremendous, and the results far-reaching. As Mr. H. W. Wilson points out in his instructive paper, we are privileged to witness an upheaval as momentous as anything that has occurred since the French Revolution, and no man can foretell the end. So far all has gone well with the Japanese, and they are entitled to feel
that fortune smiles upon them, which is worth a great deal in Wat.
It would be no exaggeration to say that Admiral Togo's brilliant Power of handling of Japanese sea power has doubled the fighting capacity of the Japanese army, which, now that the Russian naval menace has been removed, can be “dumped ” down at the dictates of military strategy. The land campaign remains in the region of speculation, though there is some ground for believing that Port Arthur, which like a sinister magnet has drawn the Russian navy to its doom, is likely to exercise a scarcely less disastrous effect upon the operations of General Kuropotkin. He appears to be dissipating his forces on the Yalu, presumably with one eye upon the safety of Port Arthur, which is to play the same part as the “entanglement” of Ladysmith, but of course the Russian position is infinitely more serious than that of General Buller. There would appear to be no man in Russia sufficiently strong to carry
out the abandonment of Port Arthur, as advised by that sagacious soldier, General Dragamiroff, who finds himself a discredited voice crying in the wilderness. Such a step, if prestige would permit it, would immensely increase Russia's striking power, and would enable her to settle down to a serious effort to retrieve her misfortunes. As it is, the military initiative remains with Japan, as did the naval initiative, and there is every reason to believe that the army will be handled with the same skill, daring, and coolness as has marked the amazing chapter in naval warfare which was closed by the action of April 13. The Japanese have managed their censorship so wisely that the trained experts of the West are still completely at sea as to their plan of campaign, , which is the subject of grotesque guesses, and it will be interesting to see whether there is any justification for the growing belief in Europe that when they have captured Port Arthur and Vladivostock, the Japanese will be content to settle down in Korea, making the line of the Yalu impregnable, and leaving Russia to hurl and exhaust herself against a Torres Vedras. Upon such high matters no layman has a right to an opinion, but it is clear that if the Japanese are able to maintain their position in Korea, humanly speaking it will be impossible for Russia to regain either of her lost arsenals.
The struggle in the Far East has been followed with passionate interest in Europe, and we trust that British Mandarins are not too self-complacent to imbibe its pregnant teaching, which contains new and startling confirmation of the old lessons. As the able military critic of the Times points out, “good policy makes good war.” The operative cause of the Russian débâcle is the hideous diplomatic ineptitude of the period preceding war. “The first-fruits of governmental incapacity in peace are military disasters in war, and by a tragic injustice the punishment falls on heads other than those responsible for the crimes.” The diplomat should never shut his eyes to the fact that his negotiations may fail when he will have to give place to the soldier and the sailor. “The first combats are the test, not of arms, but rather of the Government itself and of its leading members.” Then again, another obvious lesson of the Far Eastern War is that nations cannot rely upon professional capacity to retrieve political folly. In plain truth, the Russian navy has not greatly distinguished itself in the present struggle. The captains of the Bayan and the Novik, as well as the lieutenant of the Silmi, are cited as showing that capacity which otherwise seems to have been lacking among