The Ashburaton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. FRIDAY, MARCH 15, 1889. STRENGTHENING THE NAVY.
We referred m a recent article to the proposal of the Imperial Government to strengthen the Navy by doubling the number of ironclads and fast cruisers. The original idea of expending on this great national enterprise the enormous sum of a hundred millions seems to have been modified, or rather perhaps it may be concluded that the work is to be carried out by instalments, the amount for which the sanction of Parliament is at the present moment being asked being twenty millions. Although the increase of the naval power of the Empire is largely necessitated by the magnitude of its area, and the rapid growth of the commerce of its colonies and dependencies, it is also true that the Mother has besides this her own immediate safety at stake. For, as is pointed out by our Melbourne correspondent, it has been recently proved to the satisfaction of competent authority that it is quite possible for another Maritime Power to get into and bombard several English ports. In connection with this he remarks that "It would be interesting to spec -late how, if London were besieged, the five millions of people within its lines would be fed." He writes : — " Some important facts under th's head have been recently collated by an English writer. It costs, I learn, as many pounds now to feed London for a twelve month as there are miles from the earth to the bud. What would it cost then ? If Britain were to lose command of the seas, the people would starve. A blockade would knock off a third of the meat supply, and all the groceries ; the quartern loaf would be at once treble m price, and fruit and vegetables would be a luxury. And m the stress London would come off worst. Not Jong ago a snowstorm nearly caused a famine, and now a three days' fog m the Thames valley would put the people on half rations. Britain alone of the kingdoms of the world feeds on more than it can grow, and only lives as the citadel of an ocean empire. The country is fed a good deal from abroad ; London is fed almost entirely irom the outside. Lon don within the lines grows hardly any of its food. The ever advancing builder has appropriated the market gardens, and run streets through the cornfields, so that besides a few dairy farms and watercress beds, there is no area left for the produce of food within the only possible lines of defence. . By the road, the rail and the river, all but an infinitesimal part of London's commissariat is carried m, and the consideration of how it is carried m times of peace, should enable the inhabitants best to appreciate what the difficulties would be m time of war." In view of these considerations it is plain tbat our friends at Home are quite as closely, if not more closely, interested m the strengthening of England's power at sea than are those distant dependencies which naturally look to her for protection