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It seems, therefore, to be the business of the confederates, to turn to their advantage their apparent odds in men and horse; and, by that means, out-number the enemy in all rencounters and engagements. For the same reason, it must be for the interest of the allies to seek all opportunities of battle, because all losses on the opposite side are made up with infinitely more difficulty than on ours; besides that the French do their business by lying still, and have no other cencern in the war, than to hold fast what they have already got into their hands.
The miscarriage of the noblest project that ever was formed in Europe, can be ascribed to nothing else but our want of numbers in the several quarters of the war. If our armies, on all sides, had begun to busy and insult the enemy, at the same time that the forces marched out of Piedmont, Toulon had been at present in the hands of the duke of Savoy. But could that prince ever have imagined that the French would have been at liberty to detach whole armies against him? or will it appear credible to posterity, that in a war carried on by the joint force of so many populous and powerful nations, France could send so great a part of its troops to one seat of the war, without suffering in any of the rest? Whereas, it is well known, that if the duke of Savoy had continued before Toulon eight days longer, he had been attacked by an army of sixty thousand men, which was more than double the number of his own; and yet the enemy was strong enough everywhere else to prevent the confederates from making any impression upon them. However, let us fall into the right measures, and we may hope that the stroke is only deferred. The duke of Savoy hath secured a passage into Dauphiny, and, if the allies make such efforts in all parts, as we may reasonably expect from them, that prince may still make himself master of the French dominions on the other side of the Rhone.
There is another part of our conduct which may, perhaps, deserve to be considered. As soon as we have agreed with the States-General upon any augmentation of our forces, we immediately negociate with some or other of the German princes, who are in the same confederacy, to furnish out our quota in mercenaries. This may be doubly prejudicial to the alliance: first, as it may have an ill influence on the resolutions of those princes in the diet of the empire,
who may be willing to settle as small a quota as they can for themselves, that they may have more troops to hire out; and, in the next place, as it may hinder them from contributing the whole quota which they have settled. This actually happened in the last campaign, when we are told the Germans excused themselves for their want of troops upon the Rhine, as having already put most of their forces into the British and Dutch service. Such an excuse, indeed, is very unjust, but it would be better to give them no occasion of making it; and on such occasions, to consider what men are apt to do, as well as what they may do with reason.
It might, therefore, be for our advantage, that all the foreign troops in the British pay should be raised in neutral countries. Switzerland in particular, if timely applied to, might be of great use to us; not only in respect of the reinforcements which we might draw from thence, but because such a draught of forces would lessen the number of those that might otherwise be employed in the French service. The bulk of our levies should, nevertheless, be raised in our own country, it being impossible for neutral states to furnish both the British and Dutch with a sufficient number of effective men; besides that the British soldiers will be more at the disposal of their general, and act with greater vigour, under the conduct of one for whom they have so just a value, and whom they do not consider only as their leader, but as their countryman. We may, likewise, suppose, that the soldiers of a neutral state, who are not animated by any national interest, cannot fight for pay with the same ardour and alacrity, as men that fight for their prince and country, their wives and children.
It may, likewise, be worth while to consider, whether the military genius of the English nation may not fall by degrees, and become inferior to that of our neighbouring states, if it hath no occasion to exert itself. Minds that are altogether set on trade and profit often contract a certain narrowness of temper, and at length become uncapable of great and generous resolutions. Should the French ever make an unexpected descent upon us, we might want soldiers of our own growth to rise up in our defence: and might not have time to draw a sufficient number of troops to our relief from the remote corners of Germany. It is generally said, that if
King Charles II. had made war upon France, in the beginning of his reign, he might have conquered it, by the many veterans which were scattered up and down this kingdom, and had been inured to service in the civil wars. It is to be hoped we shall never have such another nursery of soldiers; but if the present war gives a more military turn to all other nations of Europe, than to our own, it is to be feared we may lose in strength what we gain in number. We may apply the same consideration nearer home. If all our levies are made in Scotland or Ireland, may not those two parts of the British monarchy, after the disbanding of the present army, be too powerful for the rest, in case of a revolt? though, God be thanked, we are not in any danger of one at present. However, as these considerations do not concern the more essential part of our design, it is sufficient to have mentioned them.
The sparing of ourselves in so important a conjuncture, when we have but this single opportunity left for the preserving everything that is precious amongst us, is the worst sort of management that we can possibly fall into. The good husbandry of one age may entail an endless expense upon all posterity. We must venture the sacrificing a part of our lives and fortunes at present, if we will effectually secure both for the future. The British kingdom is so well stocked with people, and so much abounds in horse, that we have power enough in our own hands, did we make our utmost use of it, to humble France, and in a campaign or two to put an end to the war.
There is not a more disagreeable thought to the people of Great Britain, than that of a standing army. But if a peace be made before the disunion of France and Spain, there are few, perhaps, that will not think the maintaining a settled body of numerous forces indispensable for the safety of our country. We have it, therefore; in our choice, to raise such a strong reinforcement of troops, as at present may be sufficient, in conjunction with those of the allies, for breaking the strength of the enemy; or, when the peace is concluded, to keep on foot such an army as will be necessary for preventing his attempts upon us.
It is to be hoped, that those who would be the most zealous against keeping up a constant body of regular troops
after a general peace, will the most distinguish themselves for the promoting an1 augmentation of those which are now on foot; and, by that means, take care that we shall not stand in need of such an expedient.
We are, indeed, obliged, by the present situation of our affairs, to bring more troops into the field than we have yet done. As the French are retired within their lines, and have collected all their strength into a narrow compass, we must have greater numbers to charge them in their intrenchments, and force them to a battle. We saw, the last campaign, that an army of fourscore thousand of the best troops in Europe, with the Duke of Marlborough at the head of them, could do nothing against an enemy that were too numerous to be assaulted in their camps, or attacked in their strongholds.
There is another consideration which deserves our utmost attention. We know very well, that there is a prince at the head of a powerful army, who may give a turn to the war in which we are engaged, if he thinks fit to side with either party. I cannot presume to guess how far our ministers may be informed of his designs: but unless they have very strong assurance of his falling in with the grand alliance, or not opposing it, they cannot be too circumspect and speedy in taking their precautions against any contrary resolution. We shall be unpardonable, if, after such an expense of blood and treasure, we leave it in the power of any single prince to command a peace, and make us accept what conditions he thinks fit. It is certain, according to the posture of our affairs in the last campaign, this prince could have turned the balance on either side; but it is to be hoped, the liberties of Europe will not depend any more on the determination of one man's will. I do not speak this, because I think there is any appearance of that on the prince's uniting himself to France. On the contrary, as he hath an extraordinary zeal for the reformed religion, and great sentiments of honour, I think it is not improbable we should draw him over to the confederacy, if we press him to it by proper motives. His love for religion, and his sense of glory, will both have their
1 For the promoting an.] He has expressed himself in this careless way two or three times in this page. He should have said-the promoting of an-but the preposition, for, is also wrong. It should be, by-distinguish themselves by
effect on a prince who hath already distinguished himself by being a patron of Protestants, and guarantee of the Westphalian treaty. And if his interest hath any part in his actions, the allies may make him greater offers than the French king can do in the present conjuncture. There are large extents of dominion in the forfeited principalities of the empire; doubtful successions, to which the king of Sweden seems to have very just pretensions; and, at the same time, a great title not yet disposed of, and a seat of war on the Moselle, where none of our generals signalized themselves. It would be presumption to be particular in any proposals on such an occasion; it is enough to have shown in general, that there are fair opportunities, of which the wisdom of the confederates may make use.
Common sense will direct us, when we see so warlike a prince at the head of so great an army hovering on the borders of our confederates, either to obtain his friendship, or secure ourselves against the force of his arms. We are sure, whatever numbers of troops we raise, we shall have no hands but what will turn to account. Nay, we are certain, that extraordinary funds and augmentations for one or two campaigns may spare us the expense of many years, and put an end to taxes and levies for a whole age; whereas a long parsimonious war will drain us of more men and money, and in the end may prove ineffectual.
There is still a great popular objection, which will be made to everything that can be urged on this subject. And indeed. it is such a one as falls so much in with the prejudices and little passions of the multitude, that when it is turned and set off to advantage by ill-designing men, it throws a damp on the public spirit of the nation, and gives a check to all generous resolutions for its honour and safety. In short, we are to be told, that England contributes much more than any other of the allies, and that, therefore, it is not reasonable she should make any addition to her present efforts. If this were true in fact, I do not see any tolerable colour for such a conclusion. Supposing, among a multitude embarked in the same vessel, there are several that in the fury of a tempest will rather perish, than work for their preservation; would it not be madness in the rest to stand idle, and rather choose to sink together than do more than comes to their share? Since we are engaged in a work so absolutely necessary for