Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

who never regarded our contest as a measuring and weighing of purses. He is the Gaul that puts his sword into the scale. He is more tempted with our wealth as booty, than terrified with it as power. But let us be rich or poor, let us be either in what proportion we may, nature is false or this is true, that where the essential publick force (of which money is but a part) is in any degree upon a par in a conflict between nations, that state which is resolved to hazard it's existence rather than to abandon it's objects, must have an infinite advantage over that which is resolved to yield rather than to carry it's resistance beyond a certain point. Humanly speaking, that people which bounds • it's efforts only with it's being, must give the law to that nation which will not push its opposition beyond its convenience.

If we look to nothing but our domestick condition, the state of the nation is full even to plethory; but if we imagine that this country can long maintain it's blood and it's food, as disjoined from the community of mankind, such an opinion does not deserve refutation as absurd, but pity as insane.

I do not know that such an improvident and stupid selfishness deserves the discussion, which, perhaps, I may bestow upon it hereafter. We cannot arrange with our enemy in the present conjuncture, without abandoning the interest of mankind. If we look only to our own petty peculium in the war, we have had some advantages; advantages ambiguous in their nature, and dearly bought. We have not in the slightest degree impaired the strength of the common enemy in any one of those points in which his particular force consists: at the same time that new enemies to ourselves, new allies to the Regicide Republick, have been made out of the wrecks and fragments of the general confederacy. So far as to the selfish part. As composing a

part of the community of Europe, and interested in it's fate, it is not easy to conceive a state of things more doubtful and perplexing. When Louis the Fourteenth had made himself master of one of the largest and most important provinces of Spain; when he had in a manner over-run Lombardy, and was thundering at the gates of Turin; when he had mastered almost all Germany on this side the Rhine; when he was on the point of ruining the august fabrick of the Empire ; when, with the Elector of Bavaria in his alliance, hardly any thing interposed between him and Vienna; when the Turk hung with a mighty force over the Empire on the other side; I do not know, that in the beginning of 1704 (that is in the third year of the renovated war with Louis the Fourteenth) the state of Europe was so truly alarming. To England it certainly was not. Holland (and Holland is a matter to England of value inestimable) was then powerful, was then independent, and though greatly endangered, was then full of energy and spirit. But the great resource of Europe was in England. Not in a sort of England detached from the rest of the world, and amusing herself with the puppet shew of a naval power (it can be no better, whilst all the sources of that power, and of every sort of power, are precarious), but in that sort of England, who considered herself as embodied with Europe; in that sort of England, who, sympathetick with the adversity or the happiness of mankind, felt that nothing in human affairs was foreign to her. We may consider it as a sure axiom that, as on the one hand, no confederacy of the least effect or duration can exist against France, of which England is not only a part, but the head, so neither can England pretend to cope with France but as connected with the body of Christendom.

OUR account of the war, as a war of communion, to the very point in which we began to throw out lures, oglings, and glances for peace, was a war of disaster and of little else. The independant advantages obtained by us at the beginning of the war, and which were made at the expence of that common cause, if they deceive us about our largest and our surest interest, are to be reckoned amongst our heaviest losses,

The allies, and Great Britain amongst the rest (perhaps amongst the foremost), have been miserably deluded by this great fundamental error; that it was in our power to make peace with this monster of a State, whenever we chose to forget the crimes that made it great, and the designs that made it formidable. People imagined that their ceasing to resist was the sure way to be secure. This ‘pale cast of thought sicklied over all their enterprizes and turned all their politicks awry. They could not, or rather they would not read, in the most unequivocal declarations of the enemy, and in his uniform conduct, that more safety was to be found in the most arduous war, than in the friendship of that kind of being. It's hostile amity can be obtained on no terms that do not imply an inability hereafter to resist it's designs. This great prolific error (I mean that peace was always in our power) has been the cause that rendered the allies indifferent about the direction of the war; and persuaded them that they might always risque a choice, and even a change in it's objects. They seldom improved any advantage; hoping that the enemy, affected by it, would make a proffer of peace, Hence it was that all their early victories have been followed almost immediately with the usual effects of a defeat; whilst all the advantages obtained by the Regicides, have been followed by the consequences that were natural. The discomfitures, which the Republick of Assassins has suffered, have uniformly called forth new exertions, which not only repaired old losses, but prepared new conquests. The losses of the allies, on the contrary, (no provision having been made on the speculation of such an event) have been followed by

desertion, by dismay, by disunion, by a dereliction of their policy, by a flight from their principles, by an admiration of the enemy, by mutual accusations, by a distrust in every member of the alliance of it's fellow, of it's cause, it's power, and it's courage.

GREAT difficulties in consequence of our erroneous policy, as I have said, press upon every side of us. Far from desiring to conceal or even to palliate the evil in the representation, I wish to lay it down as my foundation, that never greater existed. In a moment when sudden panick is apprehended, it may be wise, for a while to conceal some great publick disaster, or to reveal it by degrees, until the minds of the people have time to be re-collected, that their understanding may have leisure to rally, and that more steady counsels may prevent their doing something desperate under the first impressions of rage or terror. But with regard to a general state of things, growing out of events and causes already known in the gross, there is no piety in the fraud that covers it's true nature; because nothing but erroneous resolutions can be the result of false representations. Those measures which in common distress might be available, in greater, are no better than playing with the evil. That the effort may bear a proportion to the exigence, it is fit it should be known; known in it's quality, in it's extent, and in all the circumstances which attend it. Great reverses of fortune there have been, and great embarrassments in counsel: a principled Regicide enemy possessed of the most important part of Europe, and struggling for the rest: within ourselves, a total relaxation of all authority, whilst a cry is raised against it, as if it were the most ferocious of all despotism. A worse phænomenon-our government disowned by the most efficient member of it's tribunals ; ill supported by any of their constituent parts; and the highest tribunal of all (from causes not for our pre

sent purpose to examine) deprived of all that dignity and all that efficiency which might enforce, or regulate, or if the case required it, might supply the want of every other court. Public prosecutions are become little better than schools for treason; of no use but to improve the dexterity of criminals in the mystery of evasion; or to shew with what compleat impunity men may conspire against the Commonwealth ; with what safety assassins may attempt it's awful head. Every thing is secure, except what the laws have made sacred; every thing is tameness and languor that is not fury and faction. Whilst the distempers of a relaxed fibre prognosticate and prepare all the morbid force of convulsion in the body of the State, the steadiness of the physician is overpowered by the very aspect of the disease. The doctor of the Constitution, pretending to under-rate what he is not able to contend with, shrinks from his own operation. He doubts and questions the salutary but critical terrors of the cautery and the knife. He takes a poor credit even from his defeat; and covers impotence under the mask of lenity. He praises the moderation of the laws, as, in his hands, he sees them baffled and despised. Is all this, because in our day the statutes of the kingdom are not engrossed in as firm a character, and imprinted in as black and legible a type as ever? No! the law is a clear, but it is a dead letter. Dead and putrid, it is insufficient to save the State, but potent to infect and to kill. Living law, full of reason, and of equity and justice, (as it is, or it should not exist) ought to be severe and awful too; or the words of menace, whether written on the parchment roll of England, or cut into the brazen tablet of Rome, will excite nothing but contempt. How comes it, that in all the State prosecutions of magnitude, from the Revolution to within these two or three years, the Crown has scarcely ever retired disgraced and defeated from it's Courts? Whence

1 • Mussabat tacito medicina timore.'

« AnteriorContinuar »