Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

it, that that prince, who reigns without honour, lives in contempt, and danger, and has his tomb, at last, besmeared with reproaches

Men cannot be wanting for so honourable and necessary a war, whilst these three kingdoms enjoy peace at home; nor money (the soul of war) if prudently managed, since the issue of such a war must, with the divine blessing, secure the subjects in their beds, and establish such a peace as may be a lasting happiness to the Christian world. They will therefore certainly tear open their breasts, and give the king their hearts, and with them their hands and purses, whilst, with Cato, they esteem nothing too dear for the peace of the coma monwealth, according to the Dutch motto, Defend us, and spend us.'

And, although we must not expect a cheap war, yet certainly it cannot be dearer than a watchful, suspected, and languishing peace, in which we must consume the treasure of our nation, by upholding great artaments by sea and land, to watch a seeming friend, that he become not a real enemy, and yet not be able to prevent it at last. Nor needs any treasure be exported in specie (which, by all imagi. nable ways, ought to be avoided as part of our life-blood) but the value thereof transported in the growths and manufactures of England (besides clothes for the soldiery) which either his majesty's ministers may there expose to sale, or our confederates be obliged to answer quarterly at a certain rate; being assured the Swedes maintained that long war in Germany, without drawing any silver out of their dominions; but, contrariwise, inriched their country with the choicest spoils of their enemies, as by woful experience we have found the Scots wisely to practise upon us*.

I know it will be objected, that we are in an untoward pickle to begin a war, after so many hideous calamities, grievous impositions, and universal fall of our rents, occasioned by a thousand follies ; and why shall we throw off peace a moment sooner than we must needs lose her; seeing, with the loss of her, our trade must be miserably interrupted ?

To which, I answer, that were the continuance of trade to be always at our option, and that probably, the power of no neighbour could ever part us, he were beyond the cure of helle. boret, that would propose war in their stead; but seeing the case is quite contrary, peace and trade were better suspended for some years, with probable hopes to enjoy them plentifully afterwards, than, after a short enjoyment, to humour an unreasonable fondness, lose them and freedom eternally. Not, but that I am powerfully persuaded, that the very commencement of such a war may be so far from interrupting our trade a moment, that it may be, at once, the only means to enlarge ours, and beat the French out of hers: whereas, we now plainly see, how, during this present uncertain peace, she dilates her commerce, and thrives on the ocean ; which, with the very first approaches of a confederate war, must, in all probability, vanish; whilst the Dutch and we have thereby so many advantages, both to beat her out of sea, and increase our own In times past, before the two kingdoms were united.

té euncurably mado.

peace and

navigation and traffick. This is certain, such a war cannot prejudict us, by hindering our trade with her; it being notoriously known, that our commerce there is, at once, mischievous to us, and strangely advantageous to her, whether you respect the open or clandestine traffick : First, in the quantity, by the vast over-balance of her com. modities. And, Secondly, in the quality of them; those which she receives from us, being such as are necessary, and useful to her, and infinitely disadvantageous to us, as our wool, &c. whilst we import nothing from thence, but what we were a thousand times better to be without; and such as, if we consume them not, must, in effect, perish on their hands, to the infinite prejudice of her king, and people, as we know they now suffer by the Dutch late prohibition of brandy, salt, &c. and which, to gratify our ill-tutored humours, and appetites, subdue our rents, corrupt and impoverish our nobility and gentry, destroy our manufactures, and snatch the bread out of the mouths of our artificers, and, by consequence, increase our poor, and render us the most vain and luxurious creatures in Europe.

And, although I cannot magnify our present condition, and fitness for war; yet certainly, it is safer enterprising her abroad (as shaken as we are) with the help of powerful confederates (whose shoulders may bear part of the burthen) whilst there remain fresh hopes of victory, than slumber in a dangerous peace, till invincible mischiefs awake us, our neighbours subdued, our trade expired, war brought to our doors by a triumphant enemy heightened by conduct and successes, and cock-pit law against us; hoping, now, by a reason. able army (such as the nation may maintain in pay and courage) and the joint force of confederates, to reduce the scale, and confirm that peace, which thrice their numbers, and treble charge at another time, cannot procure; and, of all evils, the least is always to be chosen.

If I be asked, what assurance can princes have of alliances, since all ages afford untoward instances of foul play therein, to the ruin, commonly, of the most sincere and daring?

Not to distinguish between the dissimulation of the south (where, under the name of prudence and circumspection, falshood and frauds are daily reverenced) and the sincerity of the north (where most of our alliances are) nor debate the difference between leagues com. menced by revenge, passion, or some frivolous capricio (which are no sooner patched together, than rent asunder) and those led on by the exact rules of common safety and government (whose results are immortal) I answer, that honourable leagues hold commonly in. violable, until the several fundamental interests of the confederates are secured. Now it is almost impossible, that any prince's true interest can be secured, whilst France remains so mighty and rampant. Let the league hold, till her swaggering fit be over, her nails pared, and she reduced to terms of modesty and good neighbourhood, and then let the allies fall off as they please. I know, in all leagues of this nature, differences from several little interests have risen, how far it has been safe, or necessary, to weaken the common enemy:

Wherein some have always been fiercer for a total subversion than others, as in the miserable case of Germany, wherein nothing would satisfy the Swede and French, but dividing the very carcass of the imperial eagle, whilst the rest of the confederates were contented to cut off her beak and talons; yet they all agreed in this, that she was to be reduced and weakened. But suppose that allies should prove false, when once a war is commenced, what would it do else, but at once to hasten the ruin of them all? And, in the mean time, instruct the deserted prince to yield to larger terms, out-bid the apostates, stoop to the pretender (who, as a generous conqueror, must pity such) and with him, in revenge, set upon the persidious, and make them eternally repent such unworthiness, unless safe counsels in the mean time present.

Again, it may be objected, that peace ought to be preserved as long as may be, in hopes that this busy and dangerous prince may expire, before his haughty designs are accomplished, and the affairs of France fall thereby into the hands of an infant, or a lazy and effeminate prince (that is worse than a child) accompanied (as com. monly) with corrupt, faithless, or factious counsellors and flatterers, the vermin of courts, and plague and ruin of crowns and scepters, whereby (without the hazard of a war) her hufiling, and prosperous condition (as frequent examples tell us) may be rendered languishing enough.

I answer, that that, which may be, may not be, and either this active prince, who is now but thirty-two, may live (without a powerful confederacy) to give Europe a woful conviction of the folly of such lazy counsel, or leave a successor to tread in his glorious steps, till that be accomplished, which all but Frenchmen ought to abhor, whatever their religious persuasions are; and what wise man will expose, even his little private affairs, to such a risque, when safer remedies are at hand.

If it be said, that, in case our neighbours think fit to invade us, we have store of Sampsons to give them warlike entertainment, where. by we may defend our own, without concerning ourselves in affairs abroad.

I answer, First, this is clearly against the practice of our renowned ancestors, and of all wise states in all ages, who have chosen to fight their enemies on an enemy's soil, at any rate, rather than suffer the terrors and desolations of an invasion, hough the enemy should have perished all on the spot. Secondly, There is a moral impossibility to maintain England, otherwise than in a languid and frightful condition, were her Sampsons twice as many, should France (whilst we slumber) reduce the Spanish, and United Provinces, and annex the greater part of Germany to his flourishing and mighty kingdom; acquisitions whereof he has too fair a prospect. Thirdly, I dare affirm, that nothing but invincible necessity, or ill counsel, ever disposed a prince to receive an enemy into his own bowels, instead of seeking him abroad, for which I humbly offer these reasons.

1. The assailants both in their own, and their enemies opinion (which, in war, works mighty effects) have commonly the reputation

of being the better men, merely because they have the courage, to seek the enemy, at his own door.

2. The invader seldom ventures any thing besides an army, which, ten to one, is exceedingly strengthened (especially if his usage, or pay, be good) by either male-contents in church, or state, or neces. sitous persons, to whom novelty is welcome, and all governments alike; a reason which made Lycurgus fear to see a beggar, or a voluptuous person, who rides post to poverty, dwell in Sparta.

3. The assailed prince, in case he has not a standing army, and mighty treasure, is, by an invasioni, cast into ten thousand straits, in procuring monies, and raising men, when he should be fighting the enemy, or securing the country; whilst the people, instead of taking sword in hand, fly with their amazed families, before the enemy, they know not where, cursing the follies of the government, which have undone them, whilst invasions seldom leave other coun. sellors, but fear and revilings, whose results are always wild and preposterous.

4. If a prince has not a treasure of his own, he shall scarce com. mand the purses of his subjects upon an invasion, when they are busier in concealing their money to supply their own wants in the day of calamity, than expend it in defence of the publick, which their fond hopes insinuate may either be saved without it, or fears suggest is past recovery with it, as was clearly seen in the loss of Constantinople, when taken by Mahomet the great; unless the subject has an egregious reverence for the government, and counsels of the prince, as the results of his justice and virtue, whereof the great Queen Elisabeth, in the attempt of 88, is a glorious instance.

5. Soldiers are generally observed to be most warlike, and manage. able, farthest from home, when freed from the cares and addresses of wives and families.

6. The prioce assailed had need stand right in the opinion of his people, in relation to his religion, treasure, and government; for if they (who in all disasters will be judges in spite of fate) have once lost all sentiments of veneration, and confidence of him, through mis-government, they soon grow to despise and nauseate all his actions, distrust and preindicate his counsels, invocate the ghost of some glorious ancestor, and are easily won by the next comer.

7. The prince assailed doth not only, on a battle or two, venture his country, wherein, if he be beaten, he is certainly conquered, but, if he subdue the aggressors, he has only their carcases to atone, for the devastation of his country (the certain effect of invasion, and, next to a conquest, the business of an enemy) which hastens barbarity, and a certain carelessness, and opens an easy way to the next comer; as it fared with this island in relation to the Danes, Saxons, and Normans, whose conquests and pressures made way one for another; so true is it, that poverty weakens the hands, and intimi. dates the hearts of mankind, and also renders countries not worth keeping.

8. It is the fundamental interest of princes to keep the ballance even, which is not to be done without confederacies, and warring upon

1

the growing and dangerous monarch, it being certain that armies, Nerts; and fortresses (though highly valuable in their kind, and without which kingdoms are defective) secure a country not half so safe or cheap, as parity of strength among neighbouring princes.

9. A prince, who with his Sampsons intends only his own defence without regard had of his neighbours peace and safety, may one day fall without the help or pity of his neighbours, as the excellent Sir Philip Sidney observes, He that only stands on his own defence stands on no defence."

For these reasons, a kingdom, abounding with Sampsons, ought therefore to encounter the Philistines, in the Philistines country, to prevent their marching into Canaan; since every prince, by the plain rules of discretion, ought rather to humble the thriving monarch, by making his country the theatre of war, (whereon is acted nothing, but horrors, and fearful representations) than see his own, even with victory, a field of blood and desolation.

Lastly, If, from the doubtful event of war, it be alledged, that peace, even on any terms, ought to be maintained:

I answer, that, from the uncertainty of war, there remains to us as much hopes of success, as fear of miscarriage, but from a supine peace, we have only a certain assurance to be subdued at last, without the least rational hopes to escape. For let France extend her con. quests and triumphs, whilst we bask and wantonise in peace, and no imaginable softness and compliance of ours can oblige her, till she has justly branded us with some hateful marks of subjection; this sort of peace being like a mercenary woman, enchanting at first, but ready enough at last to betray us to a thousand mischiefs, when once her vile ends are accomplished. And the better to represent this danger, we must consider what inclinations France has to us, when during the late Dutch inglorious attempt at Chatham (whereunto by our own nakedness and prostitution they were invited, and by what else, I know not) she was upon the point of invading us, with a royal army, though affairs seemed not then ripe for so high an attack; which if she had nevertheless performed, what dreadful effects must have ensued, I leave them to judge, who (with myself) either saw our strange consternation upon the attempt of a weak, yea, and modest enemy, in June, 1667, or ever beheld a powerful army in an enemies country; and although peradventure we might have destroyed them, yet if they had stood, but two months to an end, and harrassed four or five counties, it had been far less charge to the nation (besides our dishonour and hazard of our navy, and naval stores) to have borne the expence of an offensive war, so many years together. Nor must we imagine this haughty design of France (where the easy conquest of England, and her drooping condition, is lately exhibited in print) is otherwise than wisely deferred, till she is become qur riyal at sea, and Flanders subdued; for both which, she now bids fairly, unless, by some potent confederacy, she be happily prevented, And when, in our weekly audiences, I read of the French growth, and marine preparations especially (which our glorious queen, though friend enough to Henry the Fourth, abhorred to suffer, knowing the consequence to be such, which by experience we

« AnteriorContinuar »