« PreviousContinue »
the enemy was beft able to hold us at a bay; where we could propose no manner of advantage to ourselves; where it was highly impolitic to enlarge our conquest; utterly neglecting that part, which would have saved and gained us many millions, which the perpetual maxims of our government teach us to pursue; which would have soonest weakned the enemy, and must either have promoted a speedy peace, or enabled us to continue the war.
Those who are fond of continuing the war, cry up our constant success at a most prodigious rate, and reckon it infinitely greater, than, in all human probability, we had reason to hope. Ten glorious campaigns are passed, and now at last, like the fick man, we are just expiring, with all sorts of good symptoms. Did the advisers of this war suppose it would continue ten years, without expecting the success we have had; and yet, at the same time, determine, that, France must be reduced, and Spain fubdued, by employing our whole strength upon Flanders? Did they believe, the last war left us in a condition to furnish fuch vast supplies, for so long a period, without involving us, and our posterity, in inextricable debts? If, after such miraculous doings, we are not yet in a condition of bringing France to our terms, nor can tell when we shall be so, although we should proceed without any reverse of fortune; what could we look for, in the ordinary course of things, but a Flanders war of at least twenty years longer? Do they, indeed, think, a town
taken for the Dutch, a sufficient recompense to us for fix millions of money; which is of so little consequence to determine the war, that the French may yet hold out a dozen years more, and afford a town every campaign at the same price?
I say not this, by any means, to detract from the army, or its leaders. Getting into the enemy's lines, paffing rivers, and taking towns, may be actions attended with many glorious circumstances ; but, when all this brings no real solid advantage to us; when it hath no other end, than to enlarge the territories of the Dutch, and increase the fame and wealth of our General; I conclude, however it comes about, that things are not as they should be; and that, surely, our forces and money might be better employed, both towards reducing our enemy, and working out some benefit to ourselves. But, the case is still much harder; we are destroying many thousand lives, exhausting our substance, not for our own interest, which would be but common prudence ; not for a thing indifferent, which would be sufficient folly, but, perhaps, to our own destruction ; which is perfect madness. We may live to feel the effects of our own valour more fenfibly, than all the consequences we imagine from the dominions of Spain, in the Duke of Anjou. We have conquered a noble territory for the States, that will maintain sufficient troops to defend itself, and feed many hundred thousand inhabitants; where all encouragement will be given, to introduce and improve manufactures, which
was the only advantage they wanted ; and which, added to their fkill, industry, and parsimony, will enable them to under-sell us in every market of the world.'
Our supply of forty thousand men, according to the first ftipulation, added to the quotas of the Emperor and Holland, which they were obliged to furnish, would have made an army of near two hundred thousand, exclusive of garrisons : enough to withstand all the power that France could bring against it; and we might have employed the rest much better, both for the common cause, and our own advantage.
The war in Spain must be imputed to the credulity of our ministers, who suffered themselves to be persuaded by the Imperial court, that the Spaniards were so violently affected to the house of Austria, as, upon the first appearance there with a few troops under the Archduke, the whole kingdom would immediately revolt.. This we tried ; and found the Emperor to have deceived either us or himself. Yet, there we drove on the war, at a prodigious disadvantage, with great expence; and, by a most corrupt management, the only General, * who, by a course of conduct and fortune almost miraculous, had nearly put us into possession of that kingdom, was left wholly unsupported, exposed to the envy of his rivals, disappointed by the caprices of a young unexperienced prince, under the guidance of a. rapacious German ministry, and at last call
ed * The Earl of Peterborough.
ed home in discontent. By which, our armies, both in Spain and Portugal, were made a facrifice to avarice, ill conduct, or treachery.
In common prudence, we should either have · pushed that war with the utmost vigour, in so
fortunate a juncture; especially, since the gaining that kingdom, was the great point, for which we pretended to continue the war; or, at least, when we had found, or made that design impracticable, we should not have gone on in so expenfive a management of it; but we have kept our troops on the defensive in Catalonia, and pursued some other way more effectual for distressing the common enemy, and advantaging ourselves.
And, what a noble field of honour and profit had we before us, wherein to employ the best of our strength ; which, against all maxims of British policy, we suffered to ly wholly neglected! I have sometimes wondered how it came to pass, that the style of maritime powers, by which our allies, in a fort of contemptuous manner, usually couple us with the Dutch, did never put us in mind of the sea; and, while some politicians were shewing us the way to Spain by Flanders, others to Savoy or Naples, that the West-Indies should never come into their heads. With half the charge we have been at, we night have maintained our original quota of forty thousand men in Flanders; and, at the same time, by our fleets and naval forces, have so distressed the Spaniards in the north and south seas of America, as to prevent any returns of money from thence,
except in our own bottoms. This is what beft became us to do, as a maritime power; this, with any common degree of success, would soon have compelled France to the necessities of a peace, and Spain to acknowledge the Archduke. But, while we, for ten years, have been squandering away our money upon the continent, France hath been wisely engrossing all the trade of Peru, going directly with their ships to Lima, and other ports, and there receiving ingots of gold and filver for French goods, of little value; which, besides the mighty advantage to their nation at present, may divert the channel of that trade for the future, so beneficial to us, who used to receive annually such vast sums at Cadiz for our goods sent thence to the Spanish West-Indies. All this we tamely saw and suffered, without the least attempt to hinder it; except what was performed by some private men at Bristol; who, inflamed by a true spirit of courage and industry, did, about three years ago, with a few vessels fitted out at their own charge, make a most successful voyage into those parts; took one of the Acapulco ships, very narrowly missed the other, and are lately returned, laden with unenvied wealth, to fhet us what might have been done with the like management by a public undertaking. At least, we might eally have prevented those great returns of money to France and Spain, although we could not have taken it ourselves. And if it be true, as the advocates for war would have it, that the French are now so impoverished,