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glorious memory, who, by the confession of his greatest enemies, was a prince that perfectly understood the interests of Europe, should, in his last speech, recommend to his parliament the declaring war against France in those memorable words: "You have yet an opportunity, by God's blessing, to secure to you and your posterity the quiet enjoyment of your religion and liberties, if you are not wanting to yourselves, but will exert the ancient vigour of the English nation: but, I tell you plainly, my opinion is, if you do not lay hold on this occasion, you have no reason to hope for another."
We have already a dreadful proof of the increase of power that accrues to France, from its conjunction with Spain. So expensive a war as that which the French monarchy hath been carrying on in so many and so remote parts at once, must long since have drained and exhausted all its substance, had there not been several secret springs, that swelled their treasury from time to time, in proportion as the war has sunk it. The king's coffers have been often reduced to the lowest ebb, but have still been seasonably refreshed by frequent and unexpected supplies from the Spanish America. We hear, indeed, of the arrival but of very few ships from those parts; but, as in every vessel there is stowage for immense treasures, when the cargo is pure bullion, or merchandise of as great a value; so we find by experience they have had such prodigious sums of money conveyed to them by these secret channels, they have been enabled to pay more numerous armies than they ever had on foot before; and that at a time when their trade fails in all its other branches, and is distressed by all the arts and contrivances of their neighbouring nations. During the last four years, by a modest computation, there have been brought into Brest above six millions of pounds sterling in bullion. What then shall we suppose would be the effect of this correspondence with America, might the wealth of those parts come to them on squadrons of men-of-war, and fleets of galleons? If these little by-currents, that creep into the country by stealth, have so great a force, how shall we stem the whole torrent, when it breaks in upon us with its full violence? and this certainly will be our case, unless we find a means to dissolve the union between France and Spain. I have dwelt the longer on this consideration, because the present war hath already furnished us with the
experiment, and sensibly convinced us of the increase of power, which France has received from its intercourse with the Spanish West Indies.
As there are many who look upon everything which they do not actually see and feel as bare probability and speculation, I shall only touch on those other reasons of which we have already had some experience, for our preventing this coalition of interests and designs in the two monarchies.
The woollen manufacture is the British strength, the staple commodity and proper growth of our country; if this fails us, our trade and estates must sink together, and all the cash of the nation be consumed on foreign merchandise. The French, at present, gain very much upon us in this great article of our trade, and, since the accession of the Spanish monarchy, supply with cloth, of their own making, the very best mart we had in Europe. And what a melancholy prospect have we, if ever a peace gives them leave to enrich their manufacture with mixtures of Spanish wool to multiply the hands employed in it, to improve themselves in all the niceties of the art, and to vend their wares in those places where was the greatest consumption of our woollen works, and the most considerable gain for the British merchant. Notwithstanding our many seasonable recruits from Portugal, and our plantations, we already complain of our want of bullion; and must at last be reduced to the greatest exigencies, if this great source be dried up, and our traffic with Spain continue under its present discouragement.
The trade of the Levant must likewise flourish or decay in our hands, as we are friends or enemies of the Spanish monarchy. The late conquest of Naples will very little alter the case, though Sicily should follow the fate of her sister kingdom. The Straits' mouth is the key of the Levant, and will be always in the possession of those who are kings of Spain. We may only add, that the same causes which straiten the British commerce will naturally enlarge the French; and that the naval force of either nation will thrive or languish in the same degree as their commerce gathers or loses strength. And if so powerful and populous a nation as that of France become superior to us by sea, our whole is lost, and we are no more a people. The consideration of so narrow a channel betwixt us, of such numbers of regular troops on the enemy's side, of so small a standing force on our own, and that too in
a country destitute of all such forts and strong places as might stop the progress of a victorious army, hath something in it so terrifying, that one does not care for setting it in its proper light. Let it not, therefore, enter into the heart of any one that hath the least zeal for his religion, or love of liberty, that hath any regard either to the honour or safety of his country, or a well-wish for his friends or posterity, to think of a peace with France, till the Spanish monarchy be entirely torn from it, and the house of Bourbon disabled from ever giving the law to Europe.
Let us suppose that the French king would grant us the most advantageous terms we can desire; without the separation of the two monarchies they must infallibly end in our destruction. Should he secure to us all our present acquisitions; should he add two or three frontier-towns to what we have already in Flanders; should he join the kingdoms of Sicily and Sardinia to Milan and Naples; should he leave King Charles in the peaceable possession of Catalonia; should he make over to Great Britain the town and harbour of Cadiz, as well as that of Gibraltar, and, at the same time, resign his conquests in Portugal; it would all be of no effect towards the common safety of Europe, while the bulk of the Spanish continent, and the riches of America, remain in the possession of the Bourbon family.
Boccalini, when he weighs the states of Europe in his political balance, after having laid France in one scale, throws Spain into the other, which wanted but very little of being a counterpoise. The Spaniards upon this, says he, begun to promise themselves the honour of the balance; reckoning that if Spain of itself weighed so well, they could not fail of success when the several parts of the monarchy were lumped in the same scale. Their surprise was very great, when, upon the throwing in of Naples, they saw the scale rise, and was greater still when they found that Milan and Flanders had the same effect. The truth of it is, these parts of the Spanish monarchy are rather for ornament than strength. They furnish out vice-royalties for the grandees, and posts of honour for the noble families; but in a time of war are encumbrances to the main body of the kingdom, and leave it naked and exposed by the great number of hands they draw from it to their defence. Should we, therefore, continue in the
possession of what1 we have already made ourselves masters with such additions as have been mentioned, we should have little more than the excrescences of the Spanish monarchy. The strength of it will still join itself to France, and grow the closer to it by its disunion from the rest.
And in this
case the advantages which must arise to that people from their intimate alliance with the remaining part of the Spanish dominions, would, in a very few years, not only repair all the damages they have sustained in the present war, but fill the kingdom with more riches than it hath yet had in its most flourishing periods.
The French king hath often entered on several expensive projects, on purpose to dissipate the wealth that is continually gathering in his coffers in times of peace. He hath employed immense sums on architecture, gardening, waterworks, painting, statuary, and the like, to distribute his treasures among his people, as well as to humour his pleasures and his ambition; but if he once engrosses the commerce of the Spanish Indies, whatever quantities of gold and silver stagnate in his private coffers, there will be still enough to carry on the circulation among his subjects. By this means, in a short space of time, he may heap up greater wealth than all the princes of Europe joined together; and in the present constitution of the world, wealth and power are but different names for the same thing. Let us therefore suppose that, after eight or ten years of peace, he hath a mind to infringe any of his treaties, or invade a neighbouring state; to revive the pretensions of Spain upon Portugal, or attempt the taking those places which were granted us for our security; what resistance, what opposition, can we make to so formidable an enemy? Should the same alliance rise against him, that is now in war with him, what could we hope for from it, at a time when the states engaged in it will be comparatively weakened, and the enemy, who is now able to keep them at a stand, will have received so many new accessions of strength.
But I think it is not to be imagined that, in such a conjuncture as we here suppose, the same confederates, or any
1 What is properly, that which, but is here used for, that of which— to prevent the repetition of of. I think, allowably. See the note on tohom, in the Freeholder, No. 49, where the same liberty is taken.
other of equal force, could be prevailed upon to join their arms, and endeavour at the pulling down so exorbitant a power. Some might be bought into his interests by money, others drawn over by fear, and those that are liable to neither of these impressions, might not think their own interest so much concerned as in the present war; or, if any appeared in a disposition to enter into such a confederacy, they might be crushed separately, before they could concert measures for their mutual defence.
The keeping together of the present alliance can be ascribed to nothing else, but the clear and evident conviction, which every member of it is under, that, if it should once break without having had its effect, they can never hope for another opportunity of reuniting, or of prevailing, by all the joint efforts of such an union. Let us, therefore, agree on this as a fixed rule, and an inviolable maxim, never to lay down our arms against France, till we have utterly disjoined her from the Spanish monarchy. Let this be the first step of a public treaty, the basis of a general peace.
Had the present war, indeed, run against us, and all our attacks upon the enemy been vain, it might look like a degree of frenzy, or a mixture of obstinacy and despair, to be determined on so impracticable an undertaking. But, on the contrary, we have already done a great part of our work, and are come within view of the end that we have been so long driving at. We remain victorious in all the seats of war. In Flanders, we have got into our hands several open countries, rich towns, and fortified places. We have driven the enemy out of all his alliances, dispossessed him of his strongholds, and ruined his allies in Germany. We have not only recovered what the beginning of the war had taken from us, but possessed ourselves of the kingdom of Naples, the duchy of Milan, and the avenue of France in Italy. The Spanish war hath given us a haven for our ships, and the most populous and wealthy province of that kingdom. In short, we have taken all the outlying parts of the Spanish monarchy, and made impressions upon the very heart of it. We have beaten the French from all their advanced posts in Europe, and driven them into their last entrenchments. One vigorous push on all sides, one general assault, will force the enemy to cry out for quarter, and surrender themselves at