« PreviousContinue »
on Great Britain ; and the advantages of trade, by a peace, founded upon that condition, would soon make us amends for all the expences of the war.
In answer to this, let us consider the circumstances we must be in, before such a peace could be obtained, if it were at all practicable. We must become, not only poor for the present, but reduced, by further mortgages, to a state of beggary, for endless years to come. Compare such a weak condition as this with so great an accession of strength to Austria; and then determine how much an emperor, in such a state of affairs, would either fear or need Britain.
Consider, that the comparison is not formed between a prince of the house of Austria, Em peror and King of Spain, and with a prince of the Bourbon family, King of France and Spain ; but between a prince of the latter, only king of Spain, and one of the former, uniting both crowns in his own person.
What returns of gratitude can we expect, when we are no longer wanted ? Hath all that we have hitherto done for the Imperial family, been taken as a favour, or only received as the due of the augustissima casa?
Will the house of Austria yield the least acre of land, the least article of strained, and even usurped prerogative, to settle the minds of those princes in the alliance, who are alarmed at the consequences of this turn of affairs, occasioned by the Emperor's death? We are assured it never will. Do we then imagine, that those princes, who dread the overgrown power of the Austrian,
as much as that of the Bourbon family, will continue in our alliance, upon a system contrary to that which they engaged with us upon ? For instance; what can the Duke of Savoy expect, in fuch a case? Will he have any choice left him, but that of being a slave and a frontier to France; or a vassal, in the utmost extent of the word, to the Imperial court ? Will he not, therefore, of the two evils, chuse the leaft; by submitting to a master who hath no immediate claim upon him, and to whose family he is nearly allied ; rather than to another, who hath already revived several claims upon him, and threatens to revive more?
Nor are the Dutch more inclined than the rest of Europe, that the Empire and Spain should be united in King Charles, whatever they may now pretend. On the contrary, it is known to several persons, that, upon the death of the late Emperor 40Seph, the States refolved, that those two powers Should not be joined in the same person ; and this they determined as a fundamental maxim, by which they intended to proceed. So that Spain was first given up by them; and, fince they inaintain no troops in that kingdom, it should seem that they under and the Duke of Anjou to be lawful monarch.
Thirdly, Those who are against any peace, without Spain, if they be such as noway find their private account by the war, may, perhaps, change their sentiments, if they will reflect a little upon our present condition.
I had two reasons, for not sooner publishing · this discourse; the first was, because I would
reason, alth which I had the I found it wou to say
give way to others, who might argue very well upon the same subject, from general topics and reason, although they might be ignorant of several facts, which I had the opportunity to know. The second was, because I found it would be necessary, in the course of this argument, to say something of the state to which the war hath reduced us ; at the same time I knetv, that such a discovery ought to be made as late as possible, and, at another juncture, would not only be very indiscreet, but might, perhaps, be dangerous.
It is the folly of too many, to mistake the echo of a London coffee-houfe, for the voice of the kingdom. The city coffee-houses have been, for fome years, filled with people whose fortunes depend upon the Bank, East-India, or some other stock. Every new fund to these, is like a new mortgage to an usurer, whose compassion for a young heir, is exactly the same with that of a stock-jobber to the landed gentry. At the court end of the town, the like places of resort are frequented, either by men out of place, and, consequently, enemies to the present ministry, or by officers of the army: no wonder, then, if the general cry, in all such meetings, be against any peace, either with Spain or without ; which, in other words, is no more than this, That discontented men desire another change of the ministry; that soldiers would be glad to keep their commissions; and that the creditors have money still, and would have the debtors borrow on the old extorting rate, while they have any security to give. Now, to give the most ignorant reader some Mm 3
idea of our present circumstances, without troubling him, or myself, with computations in form; every body knows, that our land and malt-tax amount annually to about two milJions and an half. All other branches of the revenue are mortgaged, to pay interest for what we have already borrowed. The yearly charge of the war, is usually about six millions; to make up which sum, we are forced to take up, on the credit of new funds, about three millions and an half. This last year, the computed charge of the war, came to above a million more than all the . funds the parliament could contrive, were fufficient to pay interest for; and so we have been forced to divide a deficiency of twelve hundred thoufand pounds among the several branches of our expence. This is a demonstration, that, if The war be to last another campaign, it will be impossible to find funds for supplying it, without inortgaging the malt-tax, or taking some other inethod, equally desperate.
If the peace be made this winter, we are then to consider, what circumstances we shall be in, towards paying a debt of about fifty millions ; which is a fixth part of the purchase of the whole island, if it were to be sold.
Towards clearing ourselves of this monstrous incumbrance, some of these annuities will expire, or pay off the principal, in thirty, forty, or an hundred years; the bulk of the debt must be leffened gradually, by the best management we can, out of what will remain of the land and malt-taxes, after paying guards and garrisons,
and maintaining and supplying our fleet in the time of peace. I have not skill enough to compute what will be left after these necessary charges, towards annually clearing so vast a debt; but believe it must be very little: however, it is plain, that both these taxes must be continued, as well for supporting the government; as because we have no other means for paying off the principal. And so likewise must all the other funds remain for paying the interest. How long a time this must require, how steady an administration, and how undisturbed a state of affairs, both at home and abroad, let others determine.
However, some people think all this very reasonable ; and that, since the struggle hath been for peace and safety, posterity, which is to partake the benefit, ought to share in the expence : as if, at the breaking out of this war, there had been such a conjuncture of affairs as never happened before, nor would ever happen again. It is wonderful, that our ancestors, in all their wars, should never fall under such a necessity; that we meet no examples of it in Greece and Rome; that no other nation in Europe ever knew any thing like it, except Spain, about an hundred and twenty years ago, when they drew it upon themselves, by their own folly, and have suffered for it ever since: no doubt, we shall teach posterity wisdom; but they will be apt to think the purchase too dear; and I wish they may stand to the bargain we have made in their names.
It is easy to entail debts on succeeding ages, . and to hope they will be able and willing to pay