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What honours our ministers and negotiators may expect to be paid to their wisdom, it is hard to determine, for the demands of vanity are not easily estimated. They should consider, before they call too loudly for encomiums, that they live in an age when the power of gold is no longer a secret, and in which no man finds much difficulty in making a bargain with money in his hand. To hire troops is very easy to those who are willing to pay their price. It appears, therefore, that whatever has been done, was done by means which every man knows how to use, if fortune is kind enough to put them in his power. To arm the nations of the north in the cause of Britain, to bring down hosts against France from the polar circle, has indeed a sound of magnificence, which might induce a mind unacquainted with public affairs to imagine, that some effort of policy more than human had been exerted, by which distant nations were armed in our defence, and the influence of Britain was extended to the utmost limits of the world. But when this striking phenomenon of negotiation is more nearly inspected, it appears a bargain merely mercantile of one power that wanted troops more than money, with another that wanted money, and was burdened with troops ; between whom their mutual wants made an easy contract, and who have no other friendship for each other, than reciprocal convenience happens to produce.
We shall therefore leave the praises of our ministers to others, yet not without this acknowledgment, that if they have done little, they do not seem to boast of doing much; and that whether influenced by modesty or frugality, they have not wearied the public with mercenary
panegyrists, panegyrists, but have been content with the concurrence of the parliament, and have not much folicited the applauses of the people.
In public as in private transactions, men more frequently deviate from the right for want of virtue than of wisdom; and those who declare themselves dissatisfied with these treaties, impute them not to folly but corruption.
By these advocates for the independence of Britain, who, whether their arguments be just or not, seem to be most favourably heard by the people, it is alledged, that these treaties are expensive without advantage; that they waste the treasure, which we want for our own defence, upon a foreign interest; and pour the gains of our commerce into the coffers of princes, whose enmity cannot hurt nor friendship help us; who set their fubjects to sale like sheep or oxen, without any enquiry after the intentions of the buyer, and will withdraw the troops with which they have supplied us, whenever a higher bidder shall be found.
This perhaps is true, but whether it be true or falle is not worth enquiry. We did not expect to buy their friendship, but their troops; nor did we examine upon what principle' we were supplied with asistance; it was suficient that we wanted forces, and that they were willing to furnish them. Policy never pretended to make men wife and good; the utmost of her power is to make the best use of men such as they are, to lay hold on lucky hours, to watch the present wants and present in terests of others, and make them subservient to her own convenience.
It is farther urged with great vehemence, that these troops of Rusa and Hesse are not hired in defence of Britain; that we are engaged in a naval war for territories on a diítant continent; and that these troops, though mercenaries, can never be auxiliaries; that they increase the burden of the war, without hastening its conclusion, or promoting its success; since they can neither be sent into America, the only part of the world where England can, on the present occasion, have any employment for land forces, nor be put into our ships, by which, and by which only, we are now to oppose and fubdue our enemies.
Nature has stationed us in an ifland inaccessible but by fea ; and we are now at war with an enemy, whose naval power is inferior to our own, and from whom therefore we are in no danger of invasion: to what purpose then are troops hired in such uncommon numbers ? To what end do we procure strength which we cannot exert, and exhaust the nation with subsidies at a time when nothing is disputed, which the princes who receive our fubfidies can defend ? If we had purchased ships, and hired seamen, we had apparently increased our power, and made ourselves formidable to our enemies, and, if any increase of security be posible, had secured ourselves stil better from invasions : but what can the regiments of Rulia or of Hesse contribute to the defence of the coasts of Eng!cnd; or by what assistance can they repay us the sums which we have ftipulated to pay for their costly friendship?
The King of Great-Britain has indeed a territory on the continent, of which the natives of this island scarcely knew the name till the present family was called to the throne, and yet know little more than that our King visits it from time to time. Yet for the defence of this country are these subsidies apparently paid, and these troops evidently levied. The riches of our nation are sent into distant countries, and the strength which should be employed in our own quarrel consequently impaired, for the sake of dominions, the interest of which has no connection with ours, and which, by the act of succession, we took care to keep separate from the Britis kingdoms.
To this the advocates for the subsidies say, that unreasonable ftipulations, whether in the act of settlement or any other contract, are in themselves void; and that if a country connected with England by subjection to the same sovereign, is endangered by an English quarrel, it must be defended by English force; and that we do not engage in a war for the sake of Hanover, but that Hanover is for our fake exposed to danger.
Those who brought in these foreign troops have still something further to say in their defence, and of no honest plea is it our intention to defraud them. They grant, that the terror of invasion may possibly be groundless, that the French may want the power or the courage to attack us in our own country; but they maintain, likewise, that an invasion is possible, that the armies of France are so numerous that she may hazard a large body on the ocean, without leaving herself exposed; that she is exasperated to the utmost degree of acrimony, and would be willing to do us mischief at her own peril. They allow that the invaders may be intercepted at sea, or that, if they land, they may be defeated by our native
troops. But they say, and say justly, that danger is better avoided than encountered; that those ministers consult more the good of their country
invasion, than repel it; and that if these auxiliaries have only saved us from the anxiety of expecting an enemy at our doors, or from the tumult and distress which an invasion, how soon soever repressed, would have produced, the public money is not spent in vain.
These arguments are admitted by fome, and by others rejected. But even those that admit them, can admit them only as pleas of necessity; for they consider the reception of mercenaries into our country as the desperate remedy of desperate distress; and think with great reason, that all means of prevention should be tried to fave us from any second need of such doubtful succours.
That we are able to defend our own country, that arms are most safely entrusted to our own hands, and that we have strength, and skill, and courage, equal to the best of the nations of the continent, is the opinion of
every Englishman who can think without prejudice, and speak without influence; and therefore it will not be easy to persuade the nation, a nation long renowned for valour, that it can need the help of foreigners tô defend it from invasion. We have been long without the need of arms by our good fortune, and long without the use by our negligence; so long, that the practice and almost the name of our old trained-bands is forgotten. But the story of ancient times will tell us, that the trained-bands were once able to maintain the quiet and safety of their country; and reason without history will inform us, that those men are most likely to fighe