« ForrigeFortsæt »
our welfare, the remissness of our allies should be an argument for us to redouble our endeavours rather than slacken them. If we must govern ourselves by example, let us rather imitate the vigilance and activity of the common enemy, than the supineness and negligence of our friends.
We have, indeed, a much greater share in the war than any other part of the confederacy. The French king makes at us directly, keeps a king by him to set over us, and hath very lately augmented the salary of his court, to let us see how much he hath that design at his heart. Few of the nations in war with him, should they ever fall into his hands, would lose their religion, or form of government, or interfere at present with him in matters of commerce. The Dutch, who are likely to be the greatest losers after the Britons, have but little trade to the Levant in comparison with ours, have no considerable plantations or commerce in the West Indies, or any woollen manufactures for Spain; not to mention the strong barrier they have already purchased between France and their own country.
But, after all, every nation in the confederacy makes the same complaint, and fancies itself the greatest sufferer by the war. Indeed, in so common a pressure, let the weight be never so equally distributed, every one will be most sensible of that part which lies on his own shoulders. We furnish, without dispute, more than any other branch of the alliance: but the question is, whether others do not exert themselves in proportion according to their respective strength. The emperor, the king of Prussia, the elector of Hanover, as well as the States of Holland and the duke of Savoy, seem at least to come up to us. The greatest powers in Germany are borrowing money where they can get it, in order to maintain their stated quotas, and go through their part of the expense and if any of the circles have been negligent, they have paid for it much more, in their late contributions, than what would have furnished out their shares in the common charges of the war.
There are others who will object the poverty of the nation, and the difficulties it would find in furnishing greater supplies to the war than it doth at present. To this we might answer, that if the nation were really as poor as this objection makes it, it should be an argument for enforcing rather than diminishing our present efforts against France. The
sinking our taxes for a few years would be only a temporary relief, and in a little time occasion far greater impositions, than those which are now laid upon us. Whereas the seasonable expense1 of part of our riches, will not only preserve the rest; but, by the right use of them, procure vast additions to our present stock. It may be necessary for a person languishing under an ill habit of body to lose several ounces of blood, notwithstanding it will weaken him for a time, in order to put a new ferment into the remaining mass, and draw into it fresh supplies.
But we can by no means make this concession to those who so industriously publish the nation's poverty. Our country is not only rich, but abounds in wealth much more than any other of the same extent in Europe. France, notwithstanding the goodness of its climate, the fertility of its soil, the multitude of its inhabitants, its convenient harbours, both for the Ocean and Mediterranean, and its present correspondence with the West Indies, is not to compare 2 with Great Britain in this particular. I shall transcribe, word for word, the passage of a late celebrated French author, which will lay this matter in its full light; and leave the reader to make the counter-part of the parallel between the two nations.
According to all the inquiries that I have been able to make during several years, in which I have applied myself to this sort of remarks, I have observed, that about a tenth part of the people of this kingdom are reduced to beggary, and are actually beggars. That among the nine other parts, five are not in a condition to give alms or relief to those aforementioned, being very near reduced themselves to the same miserable condition. Of the four other remaining parts, three are very uneasy in their circumstances, and embarrassed with debts and law-suits. In the tenth part, I reckon the soldiers, lawyers, ecclesiastics, merchants, and substantial citizens, which cannot make up more than a hundred thousand families. And, I believe, I should not be mistaken if I should say, that there are not above ten thousand of these families, who are very much at their ease: and if, out of these ten thousand, we should take the men that are employed in public business, with their dependants and adhe
1 Expense-for, laying-out-not usual.
2 Is not to compare.] Somewhat vulgar. We generally prefer the passive form-is not to be compared.
rents, as also those whom the king supports by his bounty, with a few merchants, the number of those who remain will be surprisingly little." Dixme Royale.
What a dreadful account is this of nineteen millions of people! for so many the author reckons in that kingdom. How can we see such a multitude of souls cast under so many subdivisions of misery, without reflecting on the absurdity of a form of government that sacrifices the ease and happiness of so many reasonable beings to the glory of one of their fellow-creatures ? But this is not our affair at present.
If we run over the other nations of Europe that have any part in the present war, we shall only pass through so many different scenes of poverty. Spain, Portugal, and Savoy are reduced to great extremities. Germany is exhausted to the last degree in many parts of it, and in others plundered of all she had left. Holland, indeed, flourishes above the rest in wealth and plenty: but if we consider the infinite industry and penuriousness of that people, the coarseness of their food and raiment, their little indulgences of pleasure1 and excess, it is no wonder, that notwithstanding they furnish as great taxes as their neighbours, they make a better figure under them. In a commonwealth there are not so many overgrown estates as in monarchies, the wealth of the country is so equally distributed, that most of the community are at their ease, though few are placed in extraordinary points of splendour and magnificence. But, notwithstanding these circumstances may very much contribute to the seeming prosperity of the United Provinces, we know they are indebted many millions more than their whole republic is worth; and if we consider the variety of taxes and impositions they groan under at a time when their private dissensions run high, and some of the wealthiest parts of the government refuse to bear their share in the public expense, we shall not think the condition of that people so much to be envied as some amongst us would willingly represent it.
Nor is Great Britain only rich as she stands in comparison with other states, but is really so in her own intrinsic wealth. She had never more ships at sea, greater quantities of merchandise in her warehouses, larger receipts of customs, or
Their little indulgences of pleasure.] Concisely, but inaccurately, expressed, for the little indulgence they give themselves in pleasure.
more numerous commodities rising out of her manufactures than she has at present. In short she sits in the midst of a mighty affluence of all the necessaries and conveniences of life. If our silver and gold diminishes, our public credit continues unimpaired; and if we are in want of bullion, it lies in our own power to supply ourselves. The old Roman general, when he heard his army complain of thirst, showed them the springs and rivers that lay behind the enemy's camp. It is our own case; the rout of a Spanish army would make us masters of the Indies.
If Prince Eugene takes upon him the command of the confederate forces in Catalonia, and meets with that support from the alliance which they are capable of giving him, we have a fair prospect of reducing Spain to the entire obedience of the house of Austria. The Silesian fund (to the immortal reputation of those generous patriots who were concerned in it) enabled that prince to make a conquest of Italy, at a time when our affairs were more desperate there than they are at present in the kingdom of Spain.
When our parliament had done their utmost, another public-spirited project of the same nature, which the common enemy could not foresee nor prepare against, might, in all probability, set King Charles upon the throne for which he hath so long contended. One pitched battle would determine the fate of the Spanish continent.
Let us, therefore, exert the united strength of our whole island, and by that means put a new life and spirit into the confederates, who have their eyes fixed upon us, and will abate or increase their preparations according to the example that is set them. We see the necessity of an augmentation if we intend to bring the enemy to reason, or rescue our country from the miseries that may befall it; and we find ourselves in a condition of making such an augmentation as, by the blessing of God, cannot but prove effectual. If we carry it on vigorously, we shall gain for ourselves and our posterity a long, a glorious, and a lasting peace; but if we neglect so fair an opportunity, we may be willing to employ all our hands, and all our treasures, when it will be too Ïate; and shall be tormented with one of the most melan
The image in this sentence is fine; but the expression somewhat exceptionable on the account of three ofs coming together.
choly reflections of an afflicted heart, That it was once in our power to have made ourselves and our children happy.1
I am by no means a judge of the subject debated in this paper; which was, apparently, written to serve the cause, and to promote the views, of the author's friends and patrons, then in the direction of affairs. What every one sees, is, that, if all political pamphlets were composed with the clearness, the good sense, and the good temper, so conspicuous in this, they would be very useful to the public, or, at least, could do no hurt. When Mr. Addison submitted, sometimes, to become a party-writer, he knew how to maintain the fairness, the elegance, and even dignity, of his character.