THE ROMANCE OF DESIGN
'The young disease, that must subdue at length,
Grows with his growth, and strengthens with his strength.'
Pope, Essay on Man.
Thus each link forged the next. From the original desire to enlarge the gun we were led on step by step to the Fast Division, and in order to get the Fast Division we were forced to rely for vital units of the Fleet upon oil fuel. This led to the general adoption of oil fuel and to all the provisions which were needed to build up a great oil reserve. This led to enormous expense and to tremendous opposition on the Naval Estimates. Yet it was absolutely impossible to turn back.
We could only fight our way forward, and finally we found our way to the Anglo-Persian Oil agreement and contract which for an initial investment of two millions of public money (subsequently increased to five millions) has not only secured to the Navy of a very substantial proportion of its oil supply, but has led to the acquisition by the Government of a controlling share in oil properties and interests which are at present valued at scores of millions sterling and also to very considerable economies, which are still continuing, in the purchase price of Admiralty oil.
On this basis it may be said that the aggregate profits, realised and potential, of this investment may be estimated at a sum not merely sufficient to pay for all the programme of ships, great and small of that year and for the whole prewar oil fuel installation; but are such that we may not unreasonably expect that one day we shall be entitled also to claim that the mighty fleets laid down in 1912, 1913 and 1914, the greatest ever built by any power in an equal period, were added to the British Navy without costing a single penny to the taxpayer.