Page images

tell where invafion properly begins; but I fuppofe it is not to be doubted, that after the laft war, when the French had made peace with fuch apparent fuperiority, they naturally began to treat us with less respect in diftant parts of the world, and to confider us as a people from whom they had nothing to fear, and who could no longer prefume to contravene their defigns, or to check their progrefs.

The power of doing wrong with impunity seldom waits long for the will; and it is reasonable to believe, that in America the French would avow their purpofe of aggrandizing themselves with at least as little referve as in Europe. We may therefore readily believe, that they were unquiet neighbours, and had no great regard to right, which they believed us no longer able to enforce.

That in forming a line of forts behind our colonies, if in no other part of their attempt, they had acted against the general intention, if not against the literal terms of treaties, can fcarcely be denied; for it never can be fuppofed that we intended to be inclofed between the fea and the French garrifons, or preclude ourselves from extending our plantations backwards to any length that our convenience should require.

With dominion is conferred every thing that can secure dominion. He that has the coaft, has likewife the fea to a certain diftance; he that poffeffes a fortrefs, has the right of prohibiting another fortress to be built within the command of its cannon. When therefore we planted the coaft of NorthAmerica, we fuppofed the poffeffion of the inland region granted to an indefinite extent, and every L 4


nation that fettled in that part of the world, feems, by the permiffion of every other nation, to have made the fame fuppofition in its own favour.

Here then, perhaps, it will be fafeft to fix the juftice of our caufe; here we are apparently and indifputably injured, and this injury may, according to the practice of nations, be juftly refented. Whether we have not in return made fome encroachments upon them, must be left doubtful, till our practices on the Obio fhall be ftated and vindicated. There are no two nations confining on each other, between whom a war may not always be kindled with plaufible pretences on either part, as there is always paffing between them a reciprocation of injuries, and fluctuation of encroachments.

From the conclufion of the laft peace perpetual complaints of the fupplantations and invafions of the French have been fent to Europe from our colonies, and tranfmitted to our minifters at Paris, where good words were fometimes given us, and the practices of the American commanders were fometimes difowned, but no redrefs was ever obtained, nor is it probable that any prohibition was fent to America. We were ftill amufed with fuch doubtful promises as those who are afraid of war are ready to interpret in their own favour, and the French pushed forward their line of fortreffes, and feemed to refolve that before our complaints were finally difmiffed, all remedy fhould be hopeless.

We likewife endeavoured at the fame time to form a barrier against the Canadians by fending a colony to New-Scotland, a cold uncomfortable tract of ground, of which we had long the nominal pof


feffion before we really began to occupy it. To this thofe were invited whom the ceffation of war deprived of employment, and made burthenfome to their country; and fettlers were allured thither by many fallacious defcriptions of fertile vallies and clear skies. What effects thefe pictures of American happiness had upon my countrymen I was never informed, but I fuppofe very few fought provifion in those frozen regions, whom guilt or poverty dia not drive from their native country. About the boundaries of this new colony there were fome difputes, but as there was nothing yet worth a conteft, the power of the French was not much exerted on that fide; some disturbance was however given, and fome fkirmishes enfued. But perhaps being peopled chiefly with foldiers, who would rather live by plunder than by agriculture, and who confider war as their best trade, New-Scotland would be more obftinately defended than fome fettlements of far greater value; and the French are too well informed of their own intereft, to provoke hoftility for no advantage, or to felect that country for invafion, where they must hazard much, and can win little. They therefore preffed on fouthward behind our ancient and wealthy fettlements, and built fort after fort at fuch diftances that they might conveniently relieve one another, invade our colonies with fudden incurfions, and retire to places of fafety before our people could unite to oppose them.

This defign of the French has been long formed, and long known, both in America and Europe, and might at first have been easily repreffed, had force been used instead of expoftulation. When the Eng

lib attempted a fettlement upon the island of St. Lucia, the French, whether juftly or not, confidering it as neutral and forbidden to be occupied by either nation, immediately landed upon it, and destroyed the houses, wafted the plantations, and drove or carried away the inhabitants. This was done in the time of peace, when mutual profeffions of friendship were daily exchanged by the two courts, and was not confidered as any violation of treaties, nor was any more than a very foft remonfrance made on our part.


The French therefore taught us how to act; but an Hanoverian quarrel with the houfe of Auftria for fome time induced us to court, at any expence, the alliance of a nation whofe very fituation makes them our enemies. We fuffered them to destroy our fettlements, and to advance their own, which we had an equal right to attack. The time however came at last, when we ventured to quarrel with Spain, and then France no longer fuffered the apof peace to fubfift between us, but armed pearance in defence of her ally.

The events of the war are well known; we pleafed ourselves with a victory at Dettingen, where we left our wounded men to the care of our enemies, but our army was broken at Fentency and Val; and though after the difgrace which we fuffered in the Mediterranean, we had fome naval fuccefs, and an accidental dearth made peace neceffary for the French, yet they prefcribed the conditions, obliged us to give hoftages, and acted as conquerors, though as conquerors of moderation.

In this war the Americans diftinguifhed themfelves in a manner unknown and unexpected. The NewEnglish raised an army, and under the command of Pepperel took Cape-Breton, with the affiftance of the fleet. This is the most important fortrefs in America. We pleafed ourselves fo much with the acquifition, that we could not think of reftoring it; and, among the arguments used to enflame the people against Charles Stuart, it was very clamourously urged, that if he gained the kingdom, he would give Cape-Breton back to the French.

[ocr errors]

The French however had a more eafy expedient to regain Cape-Breton than by exalting Charles Stuart to the English throne. They took in their turn fort St. George, and had our Eaft-India Company wholly in their power, whom they reftored at the peace to their former poffeffions, that they may continue to export our filver.

Cape-Breton therefore was reftored, and the French were re-established in America, with equal power and greater fpirit, having loft nothing by the war which they had before gained.

To the general reputation of their arms, and that habitual fuperiority which they derive from it, they owe their power in America, rather than to any real strength, or circumftances of advantage. Their numbers are yet not great; their trade, though daily improved, is not very extenfive; their country is barren; their fortreffes, though numerous, are weak, and rather shelters from wild beafts, or favage nations, than places built for defence against bombs or cannons. Cape-Breton has been found not to be impregnable; nor, if we confider

« PreviousContinue »