No one has yet devised a perfectly safe system of either navigation or warfare. War, at any rate, under the most favorable conditions, is a very dangerous game, but nations are not deterred from going to war by thoughts of torpedoes, torpedo catchers, smokeless powder or explosive shells. Now, argues Mr. Maxim, it is shown to be possible to make a machine that will actually fly at a very high velocity, and nothing remains but to learn how to maneuver it.
"In view," he says, "of the decided advantage which a flying machine would give its possessor over an enemy I do not think that in case of war European nations would hesitate to employ them, even if one-half of the men navigating them were killed. At the present time no difficulty is ever found in getting volunteers to make a torpedo boat attack upon a man-of-war, something which is infinitely more dangerous than navigating a flying machine would be, as the latter might be painted black and make its attack at night or in a fog, when it would be quite impossible for the enemy to strike back."
And yet, after all, is it not a poor thought that "the first European nation which takes advantage of this new engine of destruction will be able to modify the map of Europe to its own ideas?" Is the dream of centuries to end only in superiority in the art of manslaughter? — All the Year Round.
Friday, July 11, 2008