« PreviousContinue »
the ftate of the places poffeffed by the two nations in America, is there any reafon upon which the French fhould have prefumed to moleft us, but that they thought our fpirit fo broken that we durft not resist them; and in this opinion our long forbearance eafily confirmed them.
We forgot, or rather avoided to think, that what we delayed to do must be done at laft, and done with more difficulty, as it was delayed longer; that while we were complaining, and they were eluding, or anfwering our complaints, fort was rifing upon fort, and one invasion made a precedent for another.
This confidence of the French is exalted by fome real advantages. If they poffefs in thofe countries less than we, they have more to gain, and lefs to hazard; if they are less numerous, they are better united.
The French compofe one body with one head. They have all the fame intereft, and agree to pursue it by the fame means. They are fubject to a governor commiffioned by an abfolute monarch, and participating the authority of his master. Designs are therefore formed without debate, and executed without impediment. They have yet more martial than mercantile ambition, and feldom fuffer their military schemes to be entangled with collateral projects of gain: they have no wish but for conqueft, of which they justly confider riches as the confequence.
Some advantages they will always have as invaders. They make war at the hazard of their enemies: the conteft being carried on in our ter
ritories, we must lose more by a victory than they will fuffer by a defeat. They will fubfift, while they stay, upon our plantations; and perhaps deftroy them when they can ftay no longer. If we pursue them, and carry the war into their dominions, our difficulties will increase every step as we advance, for we shall leave plenty behind us, and find nothing in Canada but lakes and forests barren and tracklefs; our enemies will fhut themfelves up in their forts, against which it is difficult to bring cannon through so rough a country, and which, if they are provided with good magazines, will foon ftarve those who befiege them.
All these are the natural effects of their government and fituation; they are accidentally more formidable as they are lefs happy. But the favour of the Indians which they enjoy, with very few exceptions, among all the nations of the northern continent, we ought to confider with other thoughts; this favour we might have enjoyed, if we had been careful to deserve it. The French, by having these favage nations on their fide, are always fupplied with fpies and guides, and with auxiliaries, like the Tartars to the Turks, or the Huffars to the Germans, of no great ufe against troops ranged in order of battle, but very well qualified to maintain a war among woods and rivulets, where much mischief may be done by unexpected on fets, and fafety be obtained by quick retreats. They can waste a colony by fudden inroads, furprize the ftraggling planters, frighten the inhabitants into towns, hinder the cultivation of lands, and starve those whom they are not able to conquer.
Political State of Great-Britain.
Written in the Year 1756.
HE prefent fyftem of English politics may properly be faid to have taken rise in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. At this time the Proteftant religion was established, which naturally allied us to the reformed ftate, and made all the popifh powers our enemies.
We began in the fame reign to extend our trade, by which we made it neceffary to ourselves to watch the commercial progrefs of our neighbours; and, if not to incommode and obftruct their traffick, to hinder them from impairing ours.
We then likewife fettled colonies in America, which was become the great fcene of European ambition; for, seeing with what treasures the Spaniards were annually enriched from Mexico and Peru, every nation imagined, that an American conquest or plantation would certainly fill the mother country with gold and filver. This produced a large extent of very diftant dominions, of which we, at this time, neither knew nor forefaw the advantage or incumbrance:
incumbrance: we feem to have fnatched them into our hands, upon no very just principles of policy, only because every state, according to a prejudice of long continuance, concludes itself more powerful as its territories become larger.
The difcoveries of new regions, which were then every day made, the profit of remote traffick, and the neceffity of long voyages, produced, in a few years, a great multiplication of shipping. The fea was confidered as the wealthy element; and, by degrees, a new kind of fovereignty arofe, called naval dominion.
As the chief trade of the world, fo the chief maritime power was at first in the hands of the Portuguefe and Spaniards, who, by a compact, to which the confent of other princes was not afked, had divided the newly-difcovered countries between them; but the crown of Portugal having fallen to the king of Spain, or being feized by him, he was mafter of the ships of the two nations, with which he kept all the coafts of Europe in alarm, till the Armada, which he had raised at a vaft expence for the conquest of England, was deftroyed, which put a stop, and almost an end, to the naval power of the Spaniards.
At this time the Dutch, who were oppreffed by the Spaniards, and feared yet greater evils than they felt, refolved ho longer to endure the infolence of their masters they therefore revolted; and after a ftruggle, in which they were affifted by the money and forces of Elizabeth, erected an independent and powerful commonwealth.
When the inhabitants of the Low-Countries had formed their fyftem of government, and fome re
miffion of the war gave them leifure to form schemes of future prosperity, they easily perceived, that as their territories were narrow, and their numbers fmall, they could preferve themselves only by that power which is the confequence of wealth and that, by a people whofe country produced only the neceffaries of life. Wealth was not to be acquired, but from foreign dominions, and by the transportation of the products of one country into another.
From this neceffity, thus juftly estimated, arose a plan of commerce, which was for many years profecuted with industry and success, perhaps never feen in the world before, and by which the poor tenants of mud-walled villages and impaffable bogs, erected themselves into high and mighty ftates, who put the greatest monarchs at defiance, whose alliance was courted by the proudeft, and whofe power was dreaded by the fierceft nation. By the establishment of this ftate there arose to England a new ally, and a new rival.
At this time, which feems to be the period deftined for the change of the face of Europe, France began first to rife into power; and, from defending her own provinces with difficulty and fluctuating fuccefs, to threaten her neighbours with incroachments and devaftations. Henry the Fourth having, after a long struggle, obtained the crown, found it easy to govern nobles exhausted and wearied with a long civil war, and having compofed the difputes between the Proteftants and Papists, so as to obtain at least a truce for both parties, was at leifure to accumulate treasure, and raife forces which he purposed to have employed in a design of fettling for