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1888, Anonymous , The Russia’s Hope 


Anonymous (1888) The Russia’s Hope: Or Britannia No Longer Rules the Waves; Showing How the Muscovite Bear Got at the British Whale translated by Charles James Cooke with a preface by William Beatty-Kingston, London, Chapman and Hall


FEW Englishmen, in all probability, realise how fervently the great nation to which they are proud to belong is envied and detested by another mighty nation, with which it is by no means impossible that they may be brought into violent collision before the close of the current century, if not earlier. We are not, as a rule, addicted to self-introspection, and the unknown Power vainly invoked by Robert Burns hashitherto omitted to bestow upon us the gift of seeing ourselves as others see us. The average Briton, although an instinctive dislike of “foreigners” is one of his congenital characteristics, seldom troubles himself with consideration touching feelings entertained towards him and his country by peoples differing from him in race and speech ; and it would perhaps surprise him greatly to be assured that he is by no means universally regarded with that affectionate admiration which, to do him justice, he unreservedly lavishes upon himself and all that belongs him.

As a matter of fact—alas, that it should be so ! —the very name of England nowadays has a flavour that is offensively unsavoury to the nostrils of Frenchmen and Germans, whilst in Russia it is an object of bitter abhorrence. Throughout the largest and most numerously populated of European States—one, moreover, whose Asiatic possessions extend to within a few days’ march of our own—we are sternly and steadfastly hated by men of every degree, class, and career; by none more implacably than by the officers and men of the Imperial Russian Navy, in whose memory the losses and humiliations inflicted upon their fleets during the years 1854-5 still rankle with undiminished pain.

Bearing in mind the proverbial allegation that straws tell the force and swiftness of a current, the translator of “The Russia’s Hope” offers this booklet to the English public with a view to opening his fellow-countrymen’s eyes as to the real character of the estimation in which they are actually held by the majority of the Russian people. The work, written by a distinguished naval officer, who, with relation to its authorship, has for obvious reasons chosen to preserve his incognito, was published several months ago in St. Petersburg, and achieved a popular success no less remarkable than that obtained by “The Battle of Dorking” eighteen years ago. It is written with the manifest purpose of stimulating the Czar’s Government to strengthen the Imperial Navy in a particular direction by the construction and armament of swift steel cruisers fitted out with the newest appliances of torpedo warfare—formidable engines of destruction, enabled by their speed to outsteam, and therefore easily capture, the majority of British merchant-vessels, and to avoid encounter with huge and heavily-armed ironclads. It would appear that the pregnant hints thrown out by the author of “The Russia’s Hope” have not been lost upon the Muscovite naval authorities.

Another obvious purpose of this ingenious little work has been to inspire its writer’s professional comrades, of all ranks, with a hopeful spirit in connection with Russia’s future naval enterprises, and with an eager ambition to wrest the sovereignty of the seas from Britannia, or at least to dispute it a outrance, and with an energy heretofore undisplayed by any of this country’s foes. Of the means by which it is proposed to attain the end of annihilating our commerce and carrying-trade the reader mast judge for himself. The author tells his imaginary story with an air of verisimilitude that is not the least of its attractions; and the frank hostility towards this country  animating the whole composition lends a Pungent zest to the flights of fancy that frequently enliven the narrative. To British sailors the calm assumption that our navy is incapable of its own part, and is inevitably doomed to succumb in a conflict with that of Russia, may be provocative of mirth. On the other hand it may well be that they will find matter for serious reflection in this graphic account of the fictive triumphs achieved by “The Russia’s Hope” and “The Little Son,” whilst engaged in sweeping English merchantmen from the face of the waters, and in annulling the time-honoured prestige of the British Navy.

W. B.-K.

January 12th, 1888.

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