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IF the English are singularly incurious about their Navy, that attitude must not be thought to imply neglect. On the contrary, it is a blend of admiration, respect, and, above all, confidence, induced very largely by the Navy itself. For so long has the Navy minded its own silent business that we—otherwise so inquisitive a people—have come to look upon it as beyond examination and (normally too eager to cut open the drum and explore its resources) trustfully to leave it to its own devices, conscious that those devices are wholly in our own interests. As Matthew Arnold said in his sonnet to Shakespeare:Others abide our question, thou art free— so do we address the Navy. For, although it baffles curiosity and ends by eliminating it, it is only to substitute faith. We do not take for granted all the things that we cannot understand: sometimes, indeed, we deny them; but we are satisfied to take for granted the Navy. We know that it is there. Where "there" is we may have no notion; by "there" we mean probably everywhere. The Navy is not only there, the Navy is everywhere, and therefore all's well. That is our simple creed.
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