Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

mitted to the indignities of France; it has remonstrated against the encroachments of England; and has shown its weakness by its incapacity of redress. What, then, will be its fate when France has time to breathe from her present wars 2 Every slight pretence will be caught in order to pick a quarrel; for it is natural for mankind to desire fighting when they are sure to be conquerors. To whom, in such circumstances, can the Dutch fly for support P England is irretrievably alienated from her interests; and even though the politicians of England should be desirous of saving her from ruin, yet the people, who form a large part in our legislature, would dissent. In short, they must be left to themselves to feel all the miseries of present slavery, with the painful aggravation of a consciousness of former freedom.

CHAPTER VI.-OF SPAIN.

Spain is the next country which deserves our notice; between which and England, such a correspondence subsists as will render it very prejudicial for either to be an enemy to the other. Spain, by nature and interest, is more closely connected with England than any other country whatsoever; however the disparity of religion, inclination, and manners may have interrupted the good understanding between them, which policy points out to both. The first connexion which England had with Spain, in a commercial way, was through the Dukes of Burgundy, who were at the same time kings of Spain. This was in the reign of our Henry the VII, when the treaty which has been called since by the name of the “great” and the “golden” treaty was entered into between the two courts. The provisions of that treaty secured to the Spaniards all the advantages of their American commerce as it then stood. Queen Elizabeth was by no means satisfied that it extended to an absolute exclusion of

the English from trading in those parts, especially in those dominions that had been acquired by the Spaniards in the intermediate time; nor could she ever be brought to give up to the Spaniards that exclusive right of navigation to and from their own colonies, which they have ever since considered as so capital a point. Sir Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, who negotiated the definitive treaty with Spain, at London, in the reign of James I., found great difficulties on this head. The nation was in great hopes that a person instructed as he had been by Queen Elizabeth, would have followed her maxims, and would have either acquired some new privileges for the English in that navigation, or at least have left the matter open; in which case they did not doubt of being able to make their party good against the Spaniards. But James being at all events resolved upon a peace with Spain, gave up to her the exclusive right of trading to her own colonies, in the same manner as had been practised till that time. Salisbury, who greatly dreaded an impeachment on this head, exulted in getting the matter settled in these indefinite terms; and to say truth, they left the English traders pretty much at liberty to make what constructions they pleased on the words of the treaty; since there were few places in Spanish America to which they had not traded. Matters between Spain and England remained in this situation till, by the peace of Munster in 1648, Spain re-asserted her exclusive right of trade and navigation to and from her American colonies, with all the other powers of Europe, excepting England, who had no plenipotentiary at those conferences. Cromwell, who always had flattered himself with the hopes of being one day master of Spanish America, availed himself of England being left out of that treaty, and strenuously insisted upon the privilege the English had to trade to the Spanish colonies. The Spaniards, who feared Cromwell more than they hated him, made him very extraordinary offers, if he would give up his claim, which they said was absolutely inconsistent with the very first principles of their monarchy; adding, in their peculiar manner of speaking, that the exclusive right to trade to their own colonies was one of the eyes of Spain, as the Inquisition was the other. Cromwell, however, obstimately insisted upon it, and several proposals were offered Spain, desiring peculiar privileges for the English all over Spanish America. There is some reason to think that Cromwell, had he lived, would have been able to effect this design, by making himself a moderator between France and Spain; and thus, while both were weakened by mutual animosity, he might have obtained from either, through threats or from friendship, the concessions he so much desired. Charles II. was somewhat inclined to revive the claims of England; but it was now begun to be perceived, that France was growing potent from the downfall of the Spanish power, and England judiciously interposed, in order to save Spain from ruin. This monarch, however, concluded two formal treaties with Spain; one in the year 1667, relating to the Spanish European trade; the other in the year 1670, relative to our trade in America. This treaty has been couched in terms so ambiguous, that upon its interpretation both courts have been at variance almost ever since. The subject is of such importance to both crowns that neither are willing to concede, and even the indefinite treaty of Aix La Chapelle has left it to future discussion. The part which the crown of Spain has acted in the present war has been wise, honest, and greatly to the advantage of both nations. A war with Spain may enrich individuals in Britain, but can never be of public utility; may, it must be of the most terrible national consequences; as the marine of Spain, if acting vigorously in conjunction with that of France, might form a fleet that would endanger the empire of the seas to England.

Upon a review of what has been said, if England considers its successes in the present war, she will have the utmost reason to exult; but if the situation of the other states of Europe, she must feel all the terrors of painful apprehension. Such leagues, formed of the greatest and the most ambitious powers, look with the most inauspicious aspect on the liberties of Europe; and even allowing the small power opposed to such a combination ever so victorious, yet his own victories will in the end undo him. Like a sword long employed, he will be at last worn out; and glory alone can be the only advantage he may acquire. A prospect so gloomy cannot but fill the mind with sadness: no courage can resist multitudes, no prudence can ward off fortuitous events, and no virtue can secure its possessor from ruin. Glory, respect, and honour, are only the rewards of a few ; and, though a hero should possess them in the most unbounded degree, still may the people be unhappy. After an expenditure of the most exorbitant sums of money; after a breach of every tie that can oblige mankind; after an effusion of blood that scarcely any other period can equal; after all the calamities, burnings, rapes, and desolations of war;--if after so frightful a picture of the present age, every power would sit down and be contented with the same state which they enjoyed before the war, how happy might Europe still be ' But this we can hardly expect, while ambition on one hand and obstinacy on the other, prevent any accommodation; while every victory, instead of procuring overtures of peace, only give spirits to prolong the war. While rapacious ministers find their account in prolonging, and the deluded people find glory in continuing war, what hopes can mankind have once more to repose in tranquillity; to talk again over the dangers of war, with all the pleasing satisfaction that past dangers will afford; to cultivate the arts of peace, and leave to posterity the truly valuable possession of newly invented arts, sciences carried nearer to truth, and a constitution nicely regulated by all the caution of political wisdom!

PREFACE To “THE MARTIAL REVIEw; on, A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE LATE war.” 19mo. 1763.0)

THIS is an attempt to separate what is substantial and material, from what is circumstantial and useless in history. That of the late War forms the brightest period of any in the British annals, and the author has endeavoured to do it justice by the manner in which he has recorded the several transactions, and the impartiality he has observed.

As to the first, it is matter of opinion, and he must stand or fall by the judgment of his readers. His own intention acquits him of every charge with regard to the latter. He is sensible that, in many passages, he has the prepossessions of party to encounter; and the same must have been his fate had he adopted different opinions. He disclaims all systems in politics, and has been guided in his narrative by matters of fact only. In his reflections and conjectures, where his own lights failed him, he had recourse to those who were capable of giving him information; and he has the satisfaction to believe, that when the prejudices of party are buried with their authors, the following pages, whatever defects they may have in point of composition, will be acquitted of every imputation of partiality; as rational entertainment and undeviating candour has been his only object.

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »