« ElőzőTovább »
which had openly pretended to give law to other nations, and the memory of this terror remained when the real cause was at an end. We had more lately been frighted
by Spain than by France, and though very few were then * alive of the generation that had their sleep broken by the
Armada, yet the name of the Spaniards was still terrible, and a war against them was pleasing to the people.
Our own troubles had left us very little desire to look out upon the continent, an inveterate prejudice hindered us from perceiving, that for more than half a century the power of France had been increasing, and that of Spain had been growing less ; nor does it seem to have been remembered, which, yet required no great depth of policy to discern, that of two monarchis, neither of which could be long our friend, it was our interest to have the weaker near us ; or that if a war should happen, Spain, however wealthy or strong in herself, was, by the dispersion of her territories, more obnoxious to the attacks of a naval power, and consequently had more to fear from us, and had it less in her power to hurt us.
All these considerations were overlooked by the wisdom of that age, and Cromwell assisted the French to drive the Spaniards out of Flanders, at a time, when it was our interest to have supported the Spaniards against France, as formerly the Hollanders against Spain, by which we might at least have retarded the growth of the French power, though I think it must have finally prevailed.
During this time our colonies, which were less dis. turbed by our commotions than the mother country, naturally increased; it is probable that many who were
unhappy at home took shelter in those remote regions, where, for the sake of inviting greater numbers, every one was allowed to think and live his own way. The French settlement in the mean time went slowly forward, too inconsiderable to raise any jealousy, and too weak to attempt any encroachments.
When Cromwell died, the confusions that followed produced the restoration of monarchy, and some time was employed in repairing the ruins of our constitution, and restoring the nation to a state of peace. In every change there will be many that suffer real cr imaginary grievances, and therefore many will be dissatisfied. This was, perhaps, the reason why several colonies had their beginning in the reign of Charles the Second. The Quakers willingly sought refuge in Pennsylvania ; and it is not unlikely that Carolina owed its inhabitants to the remains of that restless disposition which had given so much disturbance to our country, and had now no opportunity of acting at home.
The Dutch still continuing to increase in wealth and power, either kindled the resentment of their neighbours by their insolence, or raised their envy by their prosper ity. Charles made war upon them without much advantage; but they were obliged at last to confess him the sovereign of the narrow seas. They were reduced almost to extremities by an invasion from France ; but soon recovered from their consternation, and, by the fluctuation of war, regained their cities and provinces with the same speed as they had lost them.
During the time of Charles the Second the power of France was every day increasing ; and Charles, who never
disturbed himself with remote consequences, saw the progress of her arms, and the extension of her dominions, with very little uneasiness. He was indeed sometimes driven by the prevailing faction into confederacies against her ; but as he had, probably, a secret partiality in her favour, he never persevered long in acting against her, nor ever acted with inuch vigor; so that, by his feeble resistance, he rather raised her confidence than hindered her designs.
About this time the French first began to perceive the advantage of commerce, and the importance of a naval force ; and such encou
ouragement was given to manufactures, and so eagerly was every project received by which trade could be advanced, that, in a few years, the sea was filled with their ships, and all parts of the world crowded with their merchants. There is, perhaps, no instance in human story of such a change produced, in so short a time, in the schemes and manners of a peaple ; of so many new sources of wealth opened, and such numbers of artificers and merchants made to start out of the ground, as was seen in the ministry of Colbert.
Now it was that the power of France became formidable to England. Her dominions were large before, and her armies numerous ; but her operations were necessarily confined to the continent. She had neither ships for the transportation of her troops, nor money for their support in distant expeditions. Colbert saw both these wants, and saw that commerce only would supply them. The fertility of their country furnishes the French with commodities ; the poverty of the common people keeps the price of labour low. By the obvious practice of selling much and buying little, it was apparent that they would soon draw the wealth of other countries into their own ; and by carrying out their merchandise in their own vessels, a numerous body of sailors would quickly be raised.
This was projected, and this was performed. The king of France was soon enabled to bribe those whom he could not conquer, and to terrify with his fleets those whom his armies could not have approached. The influence of France was suddenly diffused all over the globe ; her arms were dreaded, and her pensions received in remote regions, and those were almost ready to acknowledge her sovereignty, who, a few years before, had scarcely heard her name. She thundered on the coasts of Africa, and received ambassadors from Siam.
So much may be done by one wise man endeavouring with honesty the advantage of the public. But that we may not rashly condemn all ministers as wanting wisdom or integrity, whose counsels have produced no such apparent benefits to their country, it must be considered, that Colbert had means of acting, which our government does not allow. He could enforce all his orders by the power of an absolute monarch ; he could compel individuals to sacrifice their private profit to the general good ; he could make one understanding preside over many hands, and remove difficulties by quick and violent expedients. Where no man thinks himself under any obligation to submit to another, and, instead of cooperating in one great scheme, every one hastens through bypaths to private profit, no great change can fuddenly be made ; nor is superior knowledge of much effect, where every man resolves to use his own eyes. and his own judgment, and every one applauds his own dexterity and diligence, in proportion as he becomes rich sooner than his neighbour.
Colonies are always the effects and causes of navigation. They who visit many countries find some in which pleasure, profit, or safety invite them to settle ; and these settlements, when they are once made, must keep a perpetual correspondence with the original country to which they are subject, and on which they depend for protection in danger, and supplies in necessity. So that a country once discovered and planted, must always find employment for shipping, more certainly than any foreign commerce, which depending on casualties, may be sometimes more and sometimes less, and which other nations
inay contract or suppress. A trade to colonies. can never be much impaired, being, in reality, only an intercourse between distant provinces of the same empire, from which intruders are easily excluded ; likewise the interest and affection of the correspondent parties, however distant, is the same.
On this reason all nations, whose power has been exerted on the ocean, have fixed colonies in remote parts of the world ; and while those colonies subsisted, naviga-tion, if it did not increase, was always preserved from total decay. With this policy the French were well acquainted, and therefore improved and augmented the settlements in America, and other regions, in proportion as they advanced their schemes of naval greatness.