Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

after a general peace, will the most distinguish themselves for the promoting an augmentation of those which are now on foot; and, by that means, take care that we shall not stand in need of such an expedient.

We are, indeed, obliged, by the present situation of our affairs, to bring more troops into the field than we have yet done. As the French are retired within their lines, and have collected all their strength into a narrow compass, we must have greater numbers to charge them in their intrenchments, and force them to a battle. We saw, the last campaign, that an army of fourscore thousand of the best troops in Europe, with the Duke of Marlborough at the head of them, could do nothing against an enemy that were too numerous to be assaulted in their camps, or attacked in their strongholds.

There is another consideration which deserves our utmost attention. We know very well, that there is a prince at the head of a powerful army, who may give a turn to the war in which we are engaged, if he thinks fit to side with either party. I cannot presume to guess how far our ministers may be informed of his designs : but unless they have very strong assurance of his falling in with the grand alliance, or not opposing it, they cannot be too circumspect and speedy in taking their precautions against any contrary resolution. We shall be unpardonable, if, after such an expense of blood and treasure, we leave it in the power of any single prince to command a peace, and make us accept what conditions he thinks fit. It is certain, according to the posture of our affairs in the last campaign, this prince could have turned the balance on either side; but it is to be hoped, the liberties of Europe will not depend any more on the determination of one man's will. I do not speak this, because I think there is any appearance of that on the prince's uniting himself to France. On the contrary, as he hath an extraordinary zeal for the reformed religion, and great sentiments of honour, I think it is not improbable we should draw him over to the confederacy, if we press him to it by proper motives. His love for religion, and his sense of glory, will both have their

· For the promoting an.] He has expressed himself in this careless way two or three times in this page. He should have said—the promoting of an—but the preposition, for, is also wrong. It should be, by-distinguish themselves by

effect on a prince who hath already distinguished himself by being a patron of Protestants, and guarantee of the Westphalian treaty. And if his interest hath any part in his actions, the allies may make him greater offers than the French king can do in the present conjuncture. There are large extents of dominion in the forfeited principalities of the empire; doubtful successions, to which the king of Sweden seems to have very just pretensions; and, at the same time, a great title not yet disposed of, and a seat of war on the Moselle, where none of our generals signalized themselves. It would be presumption to be particular in any proposals on such an occasion; it is enough to have shown in general, that there are fair opportunities, of which the wisdom of the confederates

may

make use. Common sense will direct us, when we see so warlike a prince at the head of so great an army hovering on the borders of our confederates, either to obtain his friendship, or secure ourselves against the force of his arms. We are sure, whatever numbers of troops we raise, we shall have no hands but what will turn to account. Nay, we are certain, that extraordinary funds and augmentations for one or two campaigns may spare us the

expense

of

many years, and put an end to taxes and levies for a whole age; whereas a long parsimonious, war will drain us of more men and money, and in the end may prove ineffectual.

There is still a great popular objection, which will be made to everything that can be urged on this subject. And indeed it is such a one as falls so much in with the prejudices and little passions of the multitude, that when it is turned and set off to advantage by ill-designing men, it throws a damp on the public spirit of the nation, and gives a check to all generous resolutions for its honour and safety. In short, we are to be told, that England contributes much more than any other of the allies, and that, therefore, it is not reasonable she should make any addition to her present efforts.

If this were true in fact, I do not see any tolerable colour for such a conclusion.

Supposing, among a multitude embarked in the same vessel, there are several that in the fury of a tempest will rather perish, than work for their preservation ; would it not be madness in the rest to stand idle, and rather choose to sink together than do more than comes to their share ? Since we are engaged in a work so absolutely necessary for

have no

our welfare, the remissness of our allies should be an argument for us to redouble our endeavours rather than slacken them. If we must govern ourselves by example, let us rather imitate the vigilance and activity of the common enemy, than the supineness and negligence of our friends.

We have, indeed, a much greater share in the war than any other part of the confederacy. The French king makes at us directly, keeps a king by him to set over us, and hath very lately augmented the salary of his court, to let us see how much he hath that design at his heart. Few of the nations in war with him, should they ever fall into his hands, would lose their religion, or form of government, or interfere at present with him in matters of commerce. The Dutch, who are likely to be the greatest losers after the Britons, have but little trade to the Levant in comparison with ours, considerable plantations or commerce in the West Indies, or any woollen manufactures for Spain; not to mention the strong barrier they have already purchased between France and their own country.

But, after all, every nation in the confederacy makes the same complaint, and fancies itself the greatest sufferer by the

Indeed, in so common a pressure, let the weight be never so equally distributed, every one will be most sensible of that part which lies on his own shoulders. We furnish, without dispute, more than any other branch of the alliance: but the question is, whether others do not exert themselves in proportion according to their respective strength. The emperor, the king of Prussia, the elector of Hanover, as well as the States of Holland and the duke of Savoy, seem at least to come up to us. The greatest powers in Germany are borrowing money where they can get it, in order to maintain their stated quotas, and go through their part of the expense: and if any of the circles have been negligent, they have paid for it much more, in their late contributions, than what would have furnished out their shares in the common charges of the war.

There are others who will object the poverty of the nation, and the difficulties it would find in furnishing greater supplies to the war than it doth at present. To this we might answer, that if the nation were really as poor as this objection makes it, it should be an argument for enforcing rather than diminishing our present efforts against France. The

war.

us.

for a person

sinking our taxes for a few years would be only a temporar; relief, and in a little time occasion far greater impositions, than those which are now laid

upon

Whereas the seasonable expensel of part of our riches, will not only preserve che rest; but, by, the right use of them, procure vast addicions to our present stock. It may

be necessary anguishing under an ill habit of body to lose several ounces of blood, notwithstanding it will weaken him for a time, in order to put a new ferment into the remaining mass, and Araw into it fresh supplies.

But we can by no means make this concession to those who o industriously publish the nation's poverty. Our country s not only rich, but abounds in wealth much more than any ther of the same extent in Europe. France, notwithstandng the goodness of its climate, the fertility of its soil, the nultitude of its inhabitants, its convenient harbours, both for he Ocean and Mediterranean, and its present correspondnce with the West Indies, is not to compare 2 with Great Britain in this particular. I shall transcribe, word for word, he passage of a late celebrated French author, which will ay this matter in its full light; and leave the reader to make he counter-part of the parallel between the two nations.

" According to all the inquiries that I have been able to nake during several years, in which I have applied myself to his sort of remarks, I have observed, that about a tenth part f the people of this kingdom are reduced to beggary, and -re actually beggars. That among the nine other parts, five re not in a condition to give alms or relief to those aforenentioned, being very near reduced themselves to the same niserable condition. Of the four other remaining parts, hree are very uneasy in their circumstances, and embarassed with debts and law-suits. In the tenth part, I reckon he soldiers, lawyers, ecclesiastics, merchants, and substanial citizens, which cannot make up more than a hundred housand families. And, I believe, I should not be mistaken

I should say, that there are not above ten thousand of hese families, who are very much at their ease : and if, out f these ten thousand, we should take the men that are emloyed in public business, with their dependants and adhe| Expense-for, laying-out-not usual. 2 Is not to compare.] Somewhat vulgar. We generally prefer the assive form-is not to be compared.

rents, as also those whom the king supports by his bounty, with a few merchants, the number of those who remain will be surprisingly little.” Dixme Royale.

What a dreadful account is this of nineteen millions of people! for so many the author reckons in that kingdom. How can we see such a multitude of souls cast under so many subdivisions of misery, without reflecting on the absurdity of a form of government that sacrifices the ease and happiness of so many reasonable beings to the glory of one of their fellow-creatures ? But this is not our affair at present.

If we run over the other nations of Europe that have any part in the present war, we shall only pass through so many different scenes of poverty. Spain, Portugal, and Savoy are reduced to great extremities. Germany is exhausted to the last degree in many parts of it, and in others plundered of all she had left. Holland, indeed, flourishes above the rest in wealth and plenty: but if we consider the infinite industry and penuriousness of that people, the coarseness of their food and raiment, their little indulgences of pleasure and excess, it is no wonder, that notwithstanding they furnish as great taxes as their neighbours, they make a better figure under them. In a commonwealth there are not so many overgrown estates as in monarchies, the wealth of the country is so equally distributed, that most of the community are at their ease, though few are placed in extraordinary points of splendour and magnificence. But, notwithstanding these circumstances may very much contribute to the seeming prosperity of the United Provinces, we know they are indebted many millions more than their whole republic is worth; and if we consider the variety of taxes and impositions they groan under at a time when their private dissensions run high, and some of the wealthiest parts of the government refuse to bear their share in the public expense, we shall not think the condition of that people so much to be envied as some amongst us would willingly represent it.

Nor is Great Britain only rich as she stands in comparison with other states, but is really so in her own intrinsic wealth. She had never more ships at sea, greater quantities of merchandise in her warehouses, larger receipts of customs, or

· Their little indulgences of pleasure.] Concisely, but inaccurately, expressed, for—the little indulgence they give themselves in pleasure.

« ПредишнаНапред »