Effect of the Defeat
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Effect of the Defeat book
Once more, therefore, we had been obliged to withdraw our fleet from the Mediterranean. The effect was much the same as of old. No steamers from this country cleared for that sea when these events became known. Those that entered the Straits were warned at Gibraltar, and either remained there or put back. There was no attempt to block the Suez Canal on the part of France, because she wanted to keep this way open to her eastern possessions. Our commerce coming home suffered terribly from hostile cruisers, which for some time carried out their operations undisturbed. The bogey of torpedo boats playing great havoc with harmless merchant ships disappeared once and for all. It had been assumed they would range up alongside and consign all to destruction without scruple. It had been lost sight of that a vessel’s nationality must first be ascertained, and if her destruction is decided upon, provision made for the crew, and passengers if carried. Privateers were often inconvenienced by the number of prisoners they took out of a prize, but how would a torpedo boat fare if so encumbered? If the captured vessel’s own boats are utilised and the passengers put adrift in them, humanity demands the stowage of food and water. Is this likely to be adopted 268at any distance from land? Would not the whole civilised world cry out at such deeds? Might they not even range themselves against the transgressor? On this occasion the inconveniences I have mentioned soon led torpedo boats to leave commerce alone. They had work more worthy of their steel.