Defeat of our Mediterranean Squadron
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As I have already stated, the French fleet left Toulon at 3 P.M. on March 1st. The conditions under which it now took the sea were very different from those that prevailed at the beginning of the century. The centre of interest had shifted to the eastward. It had passed from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. We can hardly appreciate now the eagerness with which the control of the West Indian Islands was competed for in former years, and the influence they exercised on naval strategy. Similarly the altered conditions of the North American continent have diverted the interest attached to former struggles for dominion there and, except in a minor degree relating to commerce, would not attract great attention until other points had been secured. Thus all the great naval battles of the past took place in the Atlantic, whether among the islands in the western portion or on this side. Since then the eastern hemisphere has proved more attractive. Our position in India, and its dependence on the sea for support from the mother country, must chiefly affect naval strategy of to-day.