« PreviousContinue »
well as interest of the government, acted against the French, and in which it may perhaps be reasonably doubted, whether the desire of humbling France was not stronger than that of exalting Enga land: of this, however, it is not necessary to enquire, since, though the intention may be different, the event will be the same. All mouths were now open to declare what every eye had observed before, that the arms of France were become dangerous to Europe; and that, if her encroachments were suffered a little longer, resistance would be too late.
It was now determined to re-assert the empire of the sea; but it was more easily determined than performed: the French made a vigorous defence against the united power of England and Holland, and were sometimes masters of the ocean, though the two maritime powers were united against them. At length, however, they were defeated at La Hogue; a great part of their fleet was destroyed, and they were reduced to carry on the war only with their privateers, from whom their was suffered much petty mischief, though there was no danger of conquest or invasion. They distressed our merchants, and obliged us to the continual expence of convoys and fleets of observation; and, by skulking in little coves and shallow waters, escaped out pursuit.
In this reign began our confederacy with the Dutch, which mutual interest has now improved into a friendship, conceived by some to be inseparable: and from that time the States began to be termed, in the stile of politicians, our faithful friends, the allies which Nature has given us, our
Protestant confederates, and by many other names of national endearment. We have, it is true, the same interest, as opposed to France, and some resemblance of religion, as opposed to popery; but we have such a rivalry, in
commerce, as will always keep us from very close adherence to each other. No mercantile man, or mercantile nation, has any friendship but for money, and alliance between them will last no longer than their common safety or profit is endangered; no longer than they have an enemy, who threatens to take from each more than either can steal from the other.
We were both sufficiently interested in repres. sing the ambition, and obstructing the commerce of France; and therefore we concurred with as much fidelity and as regular co-operation as is commonly found. The Dutch were in immediate danger, the armies of their enemies hovered over their country, and therefore they were obliged to dismiss for a time their love of money, and their narrow projects of private profit, and to do what a trader does not willingly at any time believe necessary, to sacrifice a part for the preservation of the whole.
A peace was at length made, and the French, with their usual vigour and industry, rebuilt their feets, restored their commerce, and became in a very few years able to contest again the dominion
Their ships were well-built, and always very numerously manned; their commanders, having no hopes but from their bravery or their fortune, were resolute, and being very carefully educated for the sea, were eminently skilful.
All this was soon perceived, when queen Anne, the then darling of England, declared war against
of the sea.
France. Our success by sea, though sufficient to keep us from dejection, was not such as dejected our enemies. It is, indeed, to be confessed, that we did not exert our whole naval strength; Marlborough was the governor of our counsels, and the great view of Marlborough was a war by land, which he knew well how to conduct, both to the honour of his country, and his own profit. The fleet was therefore starved that the army might be supplied, and naval advantages were neglected for the sake of taking a town in Flanders, to be garrisoned by our allies. The French, however, were so weakened by one defeat after another, that, though their fleet was never destroyed by any total overthrow, they at last retained it in their harbours, and applied their whole force to the resistance of the confederate army, that now began to approach their frontiers, and threatened to lay waste their provinces and cities.
In the latter years of this war, the danger of their neigbourhood in America seems to have been considered, and a fleet was fitted out and supplied with a proper number of land forces to seize Quebec, the capital of Canada, or New France; but this expedition miscarried, like that of Anson against the Spaniards, by the lateness of the season, and our ignorance of the coasts on which we were to act. We returned with loss, and only excited our enemies to greater vigilance, and perhaps to stronger fortifications.
When the peace of Utrecht was made, which those who clamoured among us most loudly against it, found it their interest to keep, the French applied themselves with the utmost industry to the
extension of their trade, which we were so far from hindering, that for many years our ministry thought their friendship of such value, as to be cheaply purchased by whatever concession.
Instead therefore of opposing, as we had hitherto professed to do, the boundless ambition of the House of Bourbon, we became on a sudden solicitous for its exaltation, and studious of its interest. We assisted the schemes of France and Spain with our feets, and endeavoured to make those our friends by servility, whom nothing but power will keep quiet, and who must always be our enemies while they are endeavouring to grow greater, and we determine to remain free.
That nothing might be omitted which could testify our willingness to continue on any terms the good friends of France, we were .content to assist not only their conquests but their traffick; and though we did not openly repeal the prohibitory laws, we yet tamely suffered commerce to be carried on betwen the two nations, and wool was daily imported, to enable them to make cloth, which they caried to our markets and sold cheaper
During all this time, they were extending and strengthening their settlements in America, contriving new modes of traffick, and framing new alliances with the Indian nations. They began now to find these northern regions, barren and desolate as they are, sufficiently valuable to desire at least a nominal possession, that might furnish a pretence for the exclusion of others; they therefore extended their claim to tracts of land, which they could never hope to occupy, took care to give
their dominions an unlimited magnitude, have given in their maps the name of Louisiana to a country, of which part is claimed by the Spaniards, and part by the English, without any regard to ancient boundaries, or prior discovery.
When the return of Columbus from his great voyage had filled all Europe with wonder and curiosity, Henry the Seventh sent Sebastian Cabot to try what could be found for the benefit of England; he declined the tract of Columbus, and steering to the westward, fell upon the island, which, from that time, was called by the English, Newfoundland. Our princes seem to have considered themselves as entitled by their right of prior seizure to the northern parts of America, as the Spaniards were allowed by universal consent their claim to the southern region for the same reason; and we accordingly made our principal set. tlements within the limits of our own discoveries, and, by degrees, planted the eastern coast from Newfoundland to Georgia.
As we had, according to the European principles, which allow nothing to the natives of these regions, our choice of situation in this extensive country, we naturally fixed our habitations along the coast, for the sake of traffick and correspondence, and all the conveniencies of navigable rivers. And when one port or river was occupied, the next colony, instead of fixing themselves in the inland parts behind the former, went on southward, till they pleased themselves with another maritime situation. For this reason our colonies have more length then depth; their extent from east to west, or from the sea to the interior country, bears no