And certainly without such gifts the British races could not have overspread so large a portion of the earth. But the world is apt to forget that there were other empires sprung from other European peoples—Portuguese, French, Spanish, and Dutch—each at some time larger in wealth, area, or population, than that which owed allegiance to the British Crown. In each case it was the power of their navies that gave each country these great possessions. Of some of these empires only insignificant traces remain to-day. They have been merged in the British Empire or have become independent. And the merging or the freeing has always followed from war at sea. It is the British sailors, and not the British colonists, that have made the British Empire. It is not because the settlers in New England were better fighters or had more talent for self-government, but because Holland had the weaker navy, that the city which must shortly be the greatest in the world is named after the ancient capital of Northern England, and not after Amsterdam. It was not England’s half-hearted fight on land, but her failure to preserve an unquestionable command of the sea that secured the extraordinary success of Washington and Hamilton’s military plans .

we have long paid lip service. Years ago it passed into a commonplace that should ever national35 existence be threatened by an outside force, it would be on the sea that we should have to rely for defence. With so tremendous an issue at stake, why was our knowledge so vague, why has our curiosity to know the truth been so feeble? Perhaps it is that communities that are very rich and very comfortable are slow to believe that danger can hang over them. In the catechism used to teach Catholic children the elements of their religion, the death that awaits every mortal, the instant judgment before the throne of God, the awful alternatives, Heaven or Hell, that depend on the issue, are spoken of as the “Four Last Things .” Their title has been flippantly explained by the admitted fact that they are the very last things that most people ever think of.

So has it been with America and England in the matter of war. The threat seemed too far off to be a common and universal concern. It could be left to the governments. So long as we voted all the money that was asked for officially, we had done our share. And, if statesmen told us that our naval force was large enough, and that it was in a state of high efficiency, and ready for war, we felt no obligation to ask what war meant, in what efficiency consisted, or how its existence could be either presumed or proved. We had no incentive to master the thing for ourselves
We were not challenged to inquire whether in fact the semblance of sea-power corresponded with its reality. The fact that it was on sea-power that we relied for defence against invasion should, of course, have quickened our vigilance. It, in fact, deadened it. For we had never refused a pound the Admiralty had asked for. We took the sufficiency of the Navy for granted and, with the buffer of the fleet between ourselves and ruin, the threat of ruin seemed all the more remote.

I myself should have obtained release in the course of that year, but I had never expected that this would really be. From my first arrival in Kara I had resigned myself to the thought of spending my entire term of punishment in the prison; in my dreams of the future I never thought about the penal settlement, but only looked forward to the distant date when, at the expiration of my sentence, I should be allowed to live somewhere as a Siberian exile.[105] That life was depicted for me in anything but rosy colours by the letters of comrades; nevertheless I awaited with impatience the far-off day of release. Like the hero of Dostoi?vsky’s Memoirs from the Dead-house, I often counted up how many years, months, weeks, hours, I had still to spend in prison. How wearily the time passed! The fewer grew the remaining years, the slower went the days, and freedom seemed further off than ever


Prison life had affected me considerably in the course of time. My nerves were shattered, and I felt as though borne down by a heavy burden; my brain worked with difficulty, and my general condition was one of apathy and lassitude. The future looked black to me; I was sick of life.

In August, 1890, reports assumed a more definite form, and we learned with certainty that we were shortly to be 294taken to Akatoui. This news excited us much, and plans for our arrangements in the new prison became the chief subject of conversation. It seemed incredible to us that the cruelty of the Government could go so far as to increase the hardships of prisoners who for the most part had already been ten years or more in captivity, and had suffered so much; yet we heard that the régime at Akatoui was to be unusually severe.

One day we learned that the Governor-General had come to Kara. We were ordered to assemble in the yard, and Baron Korf soon made his appearance, followed by a large suite, and guarded by gendarmes and soldiers. He informed us that an order had been sent from Petersburg for our removal to Akatoui. The regulations of the new prison provided that political convicts should henceforward be in exactly the same position as the ordinary criminals: we should share rooms with them, be fed in the same way. “In short,” concluded the Governor-General, “in no respect will any difference be made between the two classes of prisoners, and these instructions will be carried out to the letter State Key Laboratory.”

The sentences flowed smoothly from his lips, yet Baron Korf did not look altogether pleased with his mission. Upon us his words had a crushing effect; our fears were confirmed and worse, for no one had dreamt of our being placed on the footing of ordinary criminals. Above all, this meant that we should be liable to flogging, as they were.

; partly because we were staggered by what we had heard, and partly because we had no desire to enter into conversation with the man who had degraded himself by ordering the corporal chastisement of a woman. To the repeated question whether we had anything to say, no answer was given; but Baron Korf was apparently very anxious to get into discussion with us, and the situation became rather uncomfortable. At last, as the Governor-General was preparing to leave, Mirsky suddenly 295broke the silence. With formal politeness he inquired how the words “in every respect like the ordinary criminals” were to be construed, and laid stress on the fact that ordinary convicts were allowed to enter the penal settlement without any limitation of their numbers . Visibly gratified that at last he was addressed, Baron Korf hastened to explain that in this particular also there would henceforward be no difference made between the two classes. An animated conversation now ensued between him and Mirsky, in which Yakubòvitch soon joined. With excited gestures the latter began declaring that they might treat us in all other respects like criminals, but we would never endure it if one of us were flogged.

There were a few geraniums in the window and they did not look well. Ernest asked Mrs. Jupp if she understood flowers. “I understand the language of flowers,” she said, with one of her most bewitching leers, and on this we sent her off till she should choose to honour us with another visit, which she knows she is privileged from time to time to do, for Ernest likes her .

AND now I must bring my story to a close.

was written soon after the events it records — that is to say in the spring of 1867. By that time my story had been written up to this point; but it has been altered here and there from time to time occasionally. It is now the autumn of 1882, and if I am to say more I should do so quickly, for I am eighty years old and though well in health cannot conceal from myself that I am no longer young. Ernest himself is forty-seven, though he hardly looks it.

He is richer than ever, for he has never married and his London and North-Western shares have nearly doubled themselves. Through sheer inability to spend his income he has been obliged to hoard in self-defence. He still lives in the Temple in the same rooms I took for him when he gave up his shop, for no one has been able to induce him to take a house. His house, he says, is wherever there is a good hotel. When he is in town he likes to work and to be quiet. When out of town he feels that he has left little behind him that can go wrong, and he would not like to be tied to a single locality. “I know no exception,” he says, “to the rule that it is cheaper to buy milk than to keep a cow

As I have mentioned Mrs. Jupp, I may as well say here the little that remains to be said about her. She is a very old woman now, but no one now living, as she says triumphantly, can say how old, for the woman in the Old Kent Road is dead, and presumably has carried her secret to the grave. Old, however, though she is, she lives in the same house, and finds it hard work to make the two ends meet, but I do not know that she minds this very much, and it has prevented her from getting more to drink than would be good for her. It is no use trying to do anything for her beyond paying her allowance weekly, and absolutely refusing to let her anticipate it. She pawns her flat iron every Saturday for 4d., and takes it out every Monday morning for 4 1/2d. when she gets her allowance, and has done this for the last ten years as regularly as the week comes round. As long as she does not let the flat iron actually go we know that she can still worry out her financial problems in her own hugger-mugger way and had better be left to do so. If the flat iron were to go beyond redemption, we should know that it was time to interfere. I do not know why, but there is something about her which always reminds me of a woman who was as unlike her as one person can be to another — I mean Ernest’s mother .

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