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discretion. Another Blenheim or Ramillies will make the confederates masters of their own terms, and arbitrators of a peace.
But notwithstanding the advantages already gained are considerable if we pursue them, they will be of no effect, unless we improve them towards the carrying of our main point. The enemy staggers; if you follow your blow, he falls at your feet; but if you allow him respite, he will recover his strength, and come upon you with greater fury. We have given him several repeated wounds, that have enfeebled him and brought him low; but they are such as time will heal, unless you take advantage, from his present weakness, to redouble your attacks upon him. It was a celebrated part in Cæsar's character, and what comes home to our present purpose, that he thought nothing at all was done, while anything remained undone. In short, we have been tugging a great while against the stream, and have almost weathered our point; a stretch or two more will do the work; but if, instead of that, we slacken our arms, and drop our oars, we shall be hurried back in a moment to the place from whence1 we first set out.
After having seen the necessity of an entire separation of the kingdoms of France and Spain, our subject naturally leads us into the consideration of the most proper means for effecting it.
We have a great while flattered ourselves with the prospect of reducing France to our own terms, by the want of money among the people, and the exigencies of the public treasury; but have been still disappointed by the great sums imported from America, and the many new expedients which the court hath found out for its relief. A long consumptive war is more likely to break the grand alliance, than disable France from maintaining sufficient armies to oppose it. An arbitrary government will never want money, so long as the people have it, whilst they can send what merchandise they please to Mexico and Peru. The French, since their alliance with Spain, keep thirty ships in constant motion, between the western ports of France and the south seas of America. The king himself is an adventurer in this traffic, and besides
1 From whence.] From is redundant when joined with whence, which, of itself, means from which.
the share that he receives out of the gains of his subjects, has immense sums that come directly from it into his own hands.
We may further consider, that the French, since their abandoning Bavaria and Italy, have very much retrenched the expense of the war, and lay out among themselves all the money that is consumed in it.
Many are of opinion, that the most probable way of bringing France to reason, would be by the making an attempt upon the Spanish West Indies, and, by that means, to cut off all communication with this great source of riches, or turn the current of it into our own country. This, I must confess, carries so promising an appearance, that I would by no means discourage the attempt: but, at the same time, I think it should be a collateral project, rather than our principal design. Such an undertaking (if well concerted, and put into good hands) would be of infinite advantage to the common cause: but certainly, an enterprise that carries in it the fate of Europe, should not turn upon the uncertainty of winds and waves, and be liable to all the accidents that may befall a naval expedition.
Others there are, that have long deceived themselves with the hopes of an insurrection in France, and are, therefore, for laying out all our strength on a descent. These, I think, do not enough consider the natural love which the gross of mankind have for the constitution of their fathers. A man that is not enlightened by travel or reflection, grows as fond of arbitrary power, to which he hath been used from his infancy, as of cold climates or barren countries, in which he hath been born and bred. Besides, there is a kind of sluggish resignation, as well as poorness and degeneracy of spirit, in a state of slavery, that we meet with but very few who will be at the pains or danger of recovering themselves out of it; as we find in history instances of persons, who, after their prisons have been flung open, and their fetters struck off, have chosen rather to languish in their dungeons, than stake their lives and fortunes upon the success of a revolution. I need not instance the general fate of descents, the difficulty of supplying men and provisions by sea, against an enemy that hath both at hand, and without which, it is im
1 That, had been right, if such had preceded. He should have said-so that
possible to secure those conquests that are often made in the first onsets of an invasion. For these, and other reasons, I can never approve the nursing up commotions and insurrections in the enemy's country, which, for want of the necessary support, are likely to end in the massacre of our friends, and the ruin of their families.
The only means, therefore, for bringing France to our conditions, and what appears to me, in all human probability, a sure and infallible expedient, is to throw in multitudes upon them, and overpower them with numbers. Would the confederacy exert itself as much to annoy the enemy as they themselves do for their defence, we might bear them down with the weight of our armies, and, in one summer, overset the whole power of France.
The French monarchy is already exhausted of its best and bravest subjects. The flower of the nation is consumed in its wars the strength of their armies consists, at present, of such as have saved themselves by flight from some or other of the victorious confederates; and the only proper persons to recruit them, are but the refuse of those who have been already picked out for the service. Mareschal de Vauban, though infinitely partial in his calculations of the power of France, reckons that the number of its inhabitants was two millions less, at the peace of Ryswick, than in the beginning of the war that was there concluded: and though that war continued nine years, and this hath, as yet, lasted but six, yet, considering that their armies are more strong and numerous; that there hath been much more action in the present war; and that their losses sustained in it have been very extraordinary; we may, by a moderate computation, suppose, that the present war hath not been less prejudicial than the foregoing one, in the ravage which it has made among the people. There is, in France, so great a disproportion between the number of males and females; and among the former, between those who are capable of bearing arms, and such as are too young, sickly, or decrepit for the service; and at the same time, such vast numbers of ecclesiastics, secular and religious, who live upon the labours of others; that when the several trades and professions are supplied, you will find most of those that are proper for war absolutely necessary for filling up the laborious part of life, and carrying on the underwork of the nation. They have already contributed all their super
fluous hands, and every new levy they make must be at the expense of their farms and vineyards, their manufactures and
On the contrary, the grand alliance have innumerable sources of recruits, not only in Britain and Ireland, the United Provinces, and Flanders; but in all the populous parts of Germany, that have little trade or manufactures, in proportion to the number of their inhabitants. We may add, that the French have only Switzerland, besides their own country, to recruit in; and we know the difficulties they meet with in getting thence a single regiment: whereas, the allies have not only the same resource, but may be supplied for money from Denmark, and other neutral states. In short, the confederates may bring to the field what forces they please, if they will be at the charge of them; but France, let her wealth be what it will, must content herself with the product of her own country.
The French are still in greater straits for supplies of horse than men. The breed of their country is neither so good nor numerous as what are to be found in most of the countries of the allies. They had last summer about threescore thousand in their several armies, and could not, perhaps, bring into the field thirty thousand more, if they were disposed to make such an augmentation.
The French horse are not only few, but weak, in comparison of ours. Their cavalry, in the battle of Blenheim, could not sustain the shock of the British horse. For this reason, our late way of attacking their troops sword in hand, is very much to the advantage of our nation, as our men are more robust, and our horses of a stronger make than the French; and in such attacks, it is the weight of the forces, supposing equal courage and conduct, that will always carry it. The English strength turned very much to account in our wars against the French of old, when we used to gall them with our long bows, at a greater distance than they could shoot their arrows; this advantage we lost upon the invention of fire-arms; but, by the present method, our strength, as well as bravery, may again be of use to us in the day of battle.
We have very great encouragement to send what numbers we are able into the field, because our generals, at present, are such as are likely to make the best use of them, without throwing them away on any fresh attempts, or ill-concerted
projects. The confederate armies have the happiness of being commanded by persons who are esteemed the greatest leaders of the present age, and are, perhaps, equal to any that have preceded them. There is a sort of resemblance in their characters; a particular sedateness in their conversation and behaviour, that qualifies them for council, with a great intrepidity and resolution, that fits them for action. They are all of them men of concealed fire, that doth not break out with noise and heat in the ordinary circumstances of life, but shows itself sufficiently in all great enterprises that require it. It is true, the general upon the Rhine hath not had the same occasion as the others to signalize himself; but, if we consider the great vigilance, activity, and courage, with the consummate prudence, and the nice sense of honour, which appears in that prince's character, we have great reason to hope, that, as he purchased the first success in the present war, by forcing into the service of the confederates an army that was raised against them in the very heart of the empire, he will give one of the finishing strokes to it, and help to conclude the great work which he so happily begun. The sudden check that he gave to the French army the last campaign, and the good order he established in that of the Germans, look like happy presages of what we may expect from his conduct. I shall not pretend to give any character of the generals on the enemy's side; but I think we may say this, that in the eyes of their own nation, they are inferior to several that have formerly commanded the French armies. If, then, we have greater numbers than the French, and at the same time better generals, it must be our own fault, if we will not1 reap the fruit of such advantages.
It would be loss of time, to explain any further our superiority to the enemy in numbers of men and horse. We see plainly, that we have the means in our hands, and that nothing but the application of them is wanting. Let us only consider what use the enemy would make of the advantage we have mentioned, if it fell on their side; and is it not very strange, that we should not be as active and industrious for our security, as they would certainly be for our destruction? But before we consider, more distinctly, the method we ought to take in the prosecution of the war, under this par
It must be our own fault if we will not.] Certainly, if we will not: but the hypothesis should have been-if we do not.