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THE PRESENT STATE OF EUROPE
Wrote upon Occasion of the House of Commons's Vote to raise 2.É800000. to equip a Fleet for the Year 1671, moved thereunto by the pretended March of the French Army, towards the Marine parts of Flanders. By Thomas Manley, Esq. 1689,
THE present designs and puissance of France, both by sea and land, being, at once, both the wonder and dread of Europe, hath possessed me with so many sad reflexions on that subject, that I, who am but dust and ashes, and dwell in the shades of obscurity, cannot refrain to form and meditate, how bars may be put to such approaching dangers, especially, since the honour, safety, and welfare of our prince and country ought to be the bent and study of the most retired subject.
The present state of Europe I might fitly resemble to the body of a man, wherein all the members either languish, or are viciously af. fected; some through self-mischiefs, others oppressed by their fellow members. Spain (heretofore the great pretender to the western monarchy") droops through her own follies t, whereof, if she expire, a jury will undoubtedly find her a felo de se, while her neighbour Portugal, instead of holding her sick head, and pitying her case, is ready, on all occasions, to knock out her brains. Italy and Germany are troubled with one disease, through the windy humours of her many and ambitious princes, whose continual jealousies fill them with gripings and disquiets: England and Holland are desperately bruised through mutual buffetings, to which France cunningly looed them on f, intending like Simeon and Levi, to suppress these Sechemites ||, when sore and unable to resist; all which mistakes
• Till Oliver Cromwell enabled France to raise the same ambitious views upon the ruins
of Spain. + see the rights of the house of Austria to the Spanish succession, in vol. x. of this collection, anno 1701. : Alluding to the unnatural war proclaimed by King Charles the Second, against Holland, by the instigation, of France. | England and Holland, when wasted in their strength and wealth, by a long and bloody ware
and calamities have been to France, as so many indulgent nurses to feed and pamper her; who, like unruly cattle, trespass most on that neighbour, whose fence is lowest, and quarry best without fear of impounding, whereby (like the head in a body rickety) she grows to an unproportionable and dangerous bigness, whilst her erring neighbours (like the members) waste and languish; of whose sudden and prodigious growth, I will not now insist on (which yet is none of the least dreadful considerations) nor tell how our Cromwell seemed a dictator there; nor record how six-thousand English red coats were, at that time, more essential than humanity and protection to an oppressed king * of the blood of France + ; for now the scene being altered by the admirable conduct of a prince, whom, therefore, his subjects ought to reverence, I cannot but observe how Christendom, instead of a generous resentment, and defence of the oppressed, shrinks and faints at every undue seizure made by that haughty monarch, as if they fancied such softness could secure their own peace, or charm an ambitious conqueror into modesty, or put a stop to his career, whose utmost end is the western monarchy, whereunto, with spread sails, he now apparently hasteneth; where. as they ought rather to be powerfully persuaded, that such tameness must at once enable, and encourage him to devour them also. What prudence can justify such procedure? can time and patience repair the mistakes? or may such easy conquests glut his appetite, or possess him with compassion, to spare the rest? or does not rather one conquest beget a stomach and ability to more and greater 2 who can suppose the seizure of Lorrain will immerge him in ease and voluptuousness 2 or his successes in Flanders serve as an atonement to secure the rest? must not these unrevenged conquests rather be as so many prosperous gales to transport him to greater atchievements? seeing the like drousiness, in relation to Christian princes, gave occasion, formerly, to the growth of the Ottoman greatness, and is like still to add to his triumphs; and, as an historian observes in the like case of the antient Britons, Dum singulipugnant, universi twincuntur. Remarkable, them was the former, policy of these western princes, when, with the hazard of their ease and lives, they maintained the power of Christendom in an equal balance, dexterously throwing their arms into that scale which appeared lightest, knowing they secured thereby their own peace and government. On this account, England and France are thought to have wisely fomented the revolt of the Low Countries, and were, in effect, as fond, by that means, to lessen the grandure of Spain (who then alarmed Europe, as France does now) as if they themselves had made new conquests. Hence it was, that Philip the Second, by way of requital, and our Elisabeth (to whose • Charles the Second. + Cromwell, being solemnly inaugurated Protector, on the 26th of June 1657, immediately prudence, and memory, we owe our remaining glories) threw oil, and not water, into the long troubles of France; with which coun. cil, the same Philip was so transported (judging it the best expedient to improve his grand design of the western monarchy) that to carry the war into France, he apparently (but not wisely) neglected his own affairs in the Low-Countries; thereby spoiling a most sovereign antidote, by an unseasonable application. Nor was the costly attempt of 1588 any thing, but carrying fire into * an enemy's kingdom, the better to extinguish the flame made by that foe, in his country; kingdoms (like houses in a dreadful fire) being best secured by blowing up the next dangerous neighbour: hence, the French are supposed (by no fools) to have been both the midwife and nurse to our late Scotish and English wars + ; begot the several costly wars between us and Holland f ; continued and fostered the revolts both in Catalonia and Portugal, and of late assisted that king, both with men and money. Cromwell, indeed, was an unparalleled sinner against this antient king-craft, when, postponing the general tranquility, to his own wretched humour and interest, he assisted France, at such a time, that all the world judged her too powerful for her rival, Spain, who then lay drooping under her own wounds and follies, in relation, principally, to the ill conduct of her treasure, which, alone, will founder the strongest empire; and had this nation no other crime to charge on that ill man (who, like the greatest mortals, must, living or dead, be exposed to the severest censure of the people) it were alone sufficient to render him an impolitick and hateful person, to all generations. Whereas, on the contrary, we owe great reverence to the wisdom of his majesty, in espousing the triple alliance, and entering generously into other leagues, in order to secure the peace of Christendom. But, yet, I humbly conceive, it is not enough for a cheap, sure, and lasting peace, so long as the balance remains so unequal between the two great pretenders; and France, through her military grandure, continues so armed, able, and daring, to give perpetual frights and alarums to the whole neighbourhood; whereby, a peace, through a just and necessary jealousy, becomes as costly as war itself, consuming those that are suspicious of her; and the daily motions and buzzings of her armies oblige the neighbours, with sword in hand, to an eternal watchfulness, lest, unawares, the blow be given; which continual bendings inevitably must draw so many dreadful weaknesses on the parties concerned, as must, at length, without a miracle, improve both the designs and glories of that prince; which is so obvious to all considering men, that some of his own subjects have had the vanity, of late, to boast, even in this kingdom, what charge their king would put us unto, by marching his army (mighty, and in perpetual pay) yearly near our coasts, before really he would attack us: and certainly, great must the advantage be, which France hath now over us (whereby an estimate may be t England. see this whole expedition, vol. 2 page 14s, &c.
too to a league with France against Spain ; thereby stipulating, that all the children of King Charles the First, and their adherents, should be intirely forsaken by the French king,
and drove out of his dominions; and that, in consideration thereof, Cromwell sent six
thousand of his best troops into France, under the command of Reynolds, by which uneans the balance of Europe was transferred, from Spain, to the power of France.
taken of our decay, even in the midst of peace) if, when the humour possesseth that daring monarch (whose armies, like birds of prey, are always on the wing) to move towards us, either in pretence, or reality (which, by the event, is only determinable) we must equip, at least, our fleet, at six or seven-hundred-thousand pounds charge, to prevent the mere fear of an invasion; and when we are wearied, and consumed by so many fruitless, yet necessary armings, and laid to slumber after so many alarums, who can but easily foresee what dreadful effects may ensue Wherefore, I conclude, with that great statesman, Cicero, Pace suspecta tutius bellum". But suppose, that, whilst the United Provinces and Spain maintain their posts, we were able both to resist his attempts, and bear the expence, yet, it is scarce deniable, but, if he devour those countries, by piece-meals, and pluck up that glorious commonwealth, by the roots (which, without effectual assistance, infallibly he will) we must also receive a law from him; for what can then keep us, with the rest of Christendom, from subjection to that crown? since we already see the very clappings of his wings beget amazement. Join the power and riches of Holland to him, and all the known world must bow to his scepter. Again, should France attempt, and reduce us to severe terms, whilst our neighbours stand with their arms a-cross, it would only expedite their confusion, and draw on them a more certain conuest. o I will not, therefore, doubt, but as the safeties of us, and our allies, are floating in one common bottom, and fortified by mutual interests (the only true cement of leagues) so our joint designs, when once put into action, will be vigorously pushed on, till the balance of Christendom be reduced to its proper standard. And, whereas it must be granted, that no conquest can satiate, bonds tye, nor leagues charm this great pretender +, whereby the milky ways of peace may felicitate Europe, without the costly and terrible guards of armies, so long as the odds remain so unequal, and this mighty hero (armed and victorious) is able thus to affright the world, hec. tor his neighbours, impose upon the weak, and, on every feeble pretence, ransack their countries, without revenge; nothing remains justifiable by the just rules of policy, but with the joint arms of all parties concerned (which, indeed, is all Europe) to attack this illustrious man, upon the very first just provocation, and by dint of sword, carry the war into his own bosom; and from the example of wise princes, make his country, at once, both the seat of war and desolation; whereaf the Romans, in the war of Carthage, are a puissant instance; whereas, on the contrary, the states, and princes of Europe, Italy especially, neglecting of late to assault the Turk powerfully before Candia, are now justly expecting him, with horror and amazement, at their own doors. He that fights in his enemy's country, does in effect, fight at his enemy's cost; and when peace is clapped up, leaves his enemy, for that age, poor, and miserable, as we have, not long since, beheld in poor Germany. The French king, therefore, commonly makes himself the assailant, maintaining half his wars at his adversaries charge, by fighting in their countries; where, if he receive a blow, he has his own unharrassed kingdom, either to receive, or recruit him; and our heroick Elisabeth (who, knowing that virtue and justice were the only ligaments of her people's love, governed her affairs with miraculous wisdom and housewifery, made her payments sure to a proverb, and was accordingly adored) studied by all arts imaginable to fight her enemies on their own soil, whereby at once she imprinted thereon the terrible marks of desolation, and preserved her country as proper fuel, wherewith, on all occasions, to consume her adversaries. Nor was her sister Mary intentionally her inferior in this particular, when the loss of Calais (which, in her hand, was so ready an inlet to assail either of the great pretenders, as common interest directed) was supposed either to have occasioned, or hastened her death. For this reason, all our kings, from the glorious Edward the Third, to Queen Mary, being two hundred and ten years, with infinite care and cost, preserved Calais against all comers, as a sacred jewel of the crown; however, a sort of new policy seems of late to have been introduced. He that fights out of his country, seldom ventures any thing besides an army; but he that is assaulted, and beat upon his own dunghill, commonly loseth that with the victory, or at least suffereth ten-thousand calamities, besides the usual terrors of invasion: whereof the Swedes descent into Germany, by virtue of their king's courage and alliances (such as I drive at) is a wonderful example; wherein, a puissant emperor (armed and victorious as France is now) was courageously set upon, and after a fierce war of sixteen years, and the death (as is supposed) of three hundred thousand Germans, torn to pieces by so many eager confederates (whereof France was none of the small ones) who by the deep counsels of those mighty oracles, Richelieu and Oxenstern (guided peradventure by a divine hint) pursued this method, as the likeliest way to chastise and humble that haughty family, who otherwise, possibly, would by piecemeals, or drowsy peace, have swaggered, if not subdued Europe. Let brave princes, for the common safety of Christendom, repeat this counsel, on another theatre, the scale may soon be turned, and France most justly be chastised with her own terrible scourge forty years after; otherwise it must be a long and unlucky war, managed by France, on the soil of other princes, to make her miserable, so long as she enjoys peace at home. Allow her that, and she may tug hard with Christendom; like Spain, who, by virtue of the domestick peace, contended, in effect, with all Europe, for eighty years, and put them shrewdly to their trumps. Nothing more, than peace at home, enables a prince to manage wars abroad; he then that will humble his enemy, must throw wild fire into his bosom, carry the war into his country, and strike home, at the head and heart. Nor are the ill humours, which, peradventure, may be found, in every country, the meanest argument to excite an invasive war; since poor Germany received the deepest wounds, from his own weapons, 1.
* A war is safer than a suspected peace. t To universal monarchy.