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defence against bombs or cannons. Cape Breton has been found not to be impregnable; nor, if we consider the state of the places possessed by the two nations in America, is there any reason upon which the French should have presumed to molest us, but that they thought our spirit so broken that we durst not resist them; and in this opinion our long forbearance easily confirmed them.
We forgot, or rather avoided to think, that what we delayed to do must be done at last, and done with more difficulty, as it was delayed longer ; that while we were complaining, and they were eluding, or answering our complaints, fort was rising upon fort, and one invasion made a precedent for another.
This confidence of the French is exalted by some real advantages. If they possess in those countries less than we, they have more to gain, and less to hazard; if they are less numerous, they are better united.
The French compose one body with one head. They have all the same interest, and agree to pursue it by the same means. They are subject to a governor commissioned by an absolute monarch, and participating the authority of his master. Designs are therefore formed without debate, and executed without impediment. They have yet more martial than mercantile ambition, and seldom suffer their military schemes to be entangled with collateral projects of gain: they have no wish but for conquest, of which they justly consider riches as the consequence.
Some advantages they will always have as invaders. They make war at the hazard of their enemies : the contest being carried on in our territories, we must lose more by a victory, than they will suffer by a defeat. They will subsist, while they stay, upon our plantations; and perhaps destroy them when they can stay no longer. If we pursue them, and
carry into their dominions, our difficulties will increase every step as we advance, for we shall leave plenty behind us, and find nothing in Canada but lakes and forests barren and trackless; our enemies will shut themselves
up in their forts, against which it is difficult to bring cannon through so rough a country, and which, if they are
provided with good magazines, will soon starve those who besiege them.
All these are the natural effects of their government and situation; they are accidentally more formidable as they are less happy. But the favour of the Indians, which they enjoy, with a very few exceptions, among all the nations of the northern continent, we ought to consider with other thoughts; this favour we might have enjoyed, if we had been careful to deserve it. The French, by having these savage nations on their side, are always supplied with spies and guides, and with auxiliaries, like the Tartars to the Turks, or the Hussars to the Germans, of no great use against troops ranged in order of battle, but very well qualified to maintain a war among woods and rivulets, where much mischief may be done by unexpected onsets, and safety be obtained by quick retreats. They can waste a colony by sudden inroads, surprise the straggling planters, frighten the inhabitants into towns, hinder the cultivation of lands, and starve those whom they are not able to conquer.
POLITICAL STATE OF GREAT BRITAIN
Printed in the Year 1756.*
The present system of English politics may properly be said to have taken rise in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. At this time, the Protestant religion was established, which naturally allied us to the reformed state, and made all the popish powers our enemies.
We began in the same reign to extend our trade, by which we made it necessary to ourselves to watch the commercial progress of our neighbours : and, if not to incommode and obstruct their traffick, to hinder them from impairing ours.
We then likewise settled colonies in America, which was become the great scene of European ambition; for, seeing with what treasures the Spaniards were annually enriched from Mexico and Peru, every nation imagined, that an American conquest or plantation would certainly fill the mother country with gold and silver. This produced a large extent of very distant dominions, of which we, at this time, neither knew nor foresaw the advantage or incumbrance: we seem to have snatched them into our hands, upon no very just principles of policy, only because every state, according to a preju
* This was the introductory article to the Literary Magazine.
dice of long continuance, concludes itself more powerful as its territories become larger.
The discoveries of new regions, which were then every day made, the profit of remote traffick, and the necessity of long voyages, produced, in a few years, a great multiplication of shipping. The sea was considered as the wealthy element; and, by degrees, a new kind of sovereignty arose, called naval dominion.
As the chief trade of the world, so the chief maritime power was at first in the hands of the Portuguese and Spaniards, who, by a compact, to which the consent of other princes was not asked, had divided the newly discovered countries between them ; but the crown of Portugal having fallen to the king of Spain, or being seized by him, he was master of the ships of the two nations, with which he kept all the coasts of Europe in alarm, till the Armada, which he had raised at a vast expense for the conquest of England, was destroyed, which put a stop, and almost an end, to the naval power of the Spaniards.
At this time the Dutch, who were oppressed by the Spaniards, and feared yet greater evils than they felt, resolved no longer to endure the insolence of their masters: they therefore revolted; and, after a struggle, in which they were assisted by the money and forces of Elizabeth, erected an independent and powerful commonwealth.
When the inhabitants of the Low Countries had formed their system of government, and some remission of the war gave them leisure to form schemes of future prosperity, they easily perceived, that as their territories were narrow, and their numbers small, they could preserve themselves only by that power which is the consequence of wealth ; and that, by a people whose country produced only the necessaries of life, wealth was not to be acquired, but from foreign dominions, and by the transportation of the products of one country into another.
From this necessity, thus justly estimated, arose a plan of commerce, which was for many years prosecuted with industry and success, perhaps never seen in the world before, and by which the poor tenants of
mud-walled villages and impassable bogs, erected themselves into high and mighty states, who put the greatest monarchs at defiance, whose alliance was courted by the proudest, and whose power was dreaded by the fiercest nation. By the establishment of this state there arose to England a new ally, and a new rival.
At this time, which seems to be the period destined for the change of the face of Europe, France began first to rise into power; and, from defending her own provinces with difficulty and fluctuating success, to threaten her neighbours with encroachments and devastations. Henry the Fourth having, after a long struggle, obtained the crown, found it easy to govern nobles exhausted and wearied with a long civil war, and having composed the disputes between the Protestants and Papists, so as to obtain at least a truce for both parties, was at leisure to accumulate treasure, and raise forces which he purposed to have employed in a design of settling for ever the balance of Europe. Of this great scheme he lived not to see the vanity, or to feel the disappointment; for he was murdered in the midst of his mighty preparations.
The French, however, were in this reign taught to know their own power; and the great designs of a king, whose wisdom they had so long experienced, even though they were not brought to actual experiment, disposed them to consider themselves as masters of the destiny of their neighbours; and, from that time, he that shall nicely examine their schemes and conduct, will, I believe, find that they began to take an air of superiority to which they had never pretended before ; and that they have been always employed, more or less, openly upon schemes of dominion, though with frequent interruptions from domestick troubles, and with those intermissions which human counsels must always suffer, as men intrusted with great affairs are dissipated in youth, and languid in age, are embarrassed by competitors, or, without any external reason, change their minds.
France was now no longer in dread of insults and invasions from England. She was not only able to maintain her own territories, but prepared, on all occasions,