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So, leaving that care to God, the King of England ought to lay out his endeavours about preserving his dominions from becoming a prey to that ambitious prince, by obliging him to keep within his own bounds, and not to incroach upon his neighbours territories; and, in so doing, the king will make good the hopes and expectation Europe has conceived of him.
The Designs of France against the United Provinces. AFTER the States of the United Provinces had, by their powerful arms, constrained Spain to acknowledge them a free state, who owed allegiance to none but God alone, they were, for a time, the object of their neighbours admiration and envy, every one endeavouring to court and
alliances with this growing state, which began to be looked upon as the umpire of Europe ; but this high reputation of theirs has suffered a notable eclipse since the war of 1672, when France, having brought them to the very brink of destruction, pleased himself with the thoughts of seeing them tumble headlong into the pit he had digged for them; neither would he have been mistaken in his hopes, had not the people given a sudden and unlooked for turn to the face of affairs, by declaring the Prince of Orange Stadtholder; the providence of Almighty God, at the same time, concurring with their endeavours, to preserve that small spot of ground, by confounding and daunting their enemies, who, after the taking of Naerden, were struck with such a panick fear, that they ran away, none pursuing them.
Now, what contributed most to the mischiefs, they were involved in at that time, was, that, besides the treasonable correspondences which France held with some principal members of that government, they had neither any good troops, nor a commander in chief, and, relying on the peace and fair promises of France, they were well nigh Julled asleep by that fatal melody, whilst that king was hard at work to undermine the foundation of their dear-bought liberties and government. We find in time of peace the soldiers grow idle, as well as their arms rusty. Ease pleaseth and flatters us, and men are soon persuaded to lay aside the exereise of arms, to betake them. selves to a more gainful way of living; so that, when the enemy approaches, they are readier to embrace shame, when joined with profit and pleasure, than to strive for glory, surrounded with diffi. culties and dangers.
France knew very well, that, so long as the United Provinces had no general, that soldiery could not be but in a very bad condition, and incapable of defending them from the attempts of a powerful enemy; wherefore he took special care, by cunning practices and false suggestions (exasperating the minds of the opposite party) to prevent the Prince of Orange's being advanced to those places of trust and dignity, his Royal Highness is now so deservedly possessed of.* By this means the States grew daily weaker and weaker, their
What clearer memorial would the Dutch have to bring them out of their present lethargy when almost under the same delusion ?
troops were dissipated, their fortifications neglected, their strongest holds went to decay, their magazines were unfurnished, whilst France was raising troops under hand, and making secret alliances with England, the Elector of Cologne, and Bishop of Munster, in order to their final ruin. Du Plessis is much in the right, when he says,
That a state is not to be judged strong or weak, but with relation to the strength or weakness of its neighbours ; and that it is upon that score, that wise princes endeavour to keep themselves, as much as they can, in equal poise with their neighbours, to the end, they continue in peace and amity together; for, as soon as this
fails, all peace and good correspondence are dissolved, as being only grounded upon a mutual fear or esteem for one another. Which is so true, that a prudent prince is always jealous of the least advance or motion of his neighbour, though in a time of truce or peace, and is continually upon his watch, endeavouring to be informed of his designs before they be brought forth; for, by this means, he puts bim by his measures, and frustrates his purposes. In which point many princes and states, who are too saving, fail very oft; and this covetousness of theirs costs them and their people rery dear, by occasioning a most expensive war, which, at the first, by precaution, might have been prevented with a small matter. France is so well informed of this truth, that they neglect nothing in such cases, and their ambassadors in all the courts of Europe are supplied with money for that very purpose, who, knowing they cannot please their master better, than by corrupting one or more of the ministers of the prince or state at whose court they reside, are day and night contriving for it, and spare nothing to bring it about. Yea, when it happens that they cannot prevail with the man himself they aim at, they endeavour to gain his wife, or, in case they chance to be so unhappy as to fail there also, they condescend to make their appli. cation to some of their children; nay, so humble are they, and such slaves to their master's ambition, that they will not stick to bribe their servants, and furnish them with money proportionable to the service they are able and willing to do them.
These are the maxims that speed their designs wonderfully well in such states as are governed by many heads, as the United Provinces; which are a great bar to the French king in his aim of conquering the Spanish Netherlands, who very well knows, that, being master of the one, he cannot miss of the other. His great business there. fore is, to lull the States of the United Provinces asleep with a truce, which he will break, when he pleases, being in hopes that their forces will, in the mean time, be neglected, in laying out themselves wholly to propagate and encourage trade and navigation. For that king is well aware, that the States, being awake and standing on their guard, will never consent to his possessing himself of the Spanish Netherlands, at least they ought not to do it, since thatis the only bar and rampart which hinders France from overwhelming them, which they ought, therefore, by all means to endeavour to preserve whole and intire, as one would his neighbour's house from What 'pains did not Count D'Avaux take to set one province against the other, and to sow divisions among the cities of Holland ? How busy was he at Amsterdam? What proffers or promises did he spare to bring it about? Which is a thing so publickly known from that ambassador's frequent journies to that great city, that the very children were not ignorant of it. We must not imagine that Mombas was alone engaged in this* treason against the state, but rather that he, escaping into France, has left several behind him, that walk in the dark, and are not yet discovered. The best of it is, that Count D’Avaux begins to be known, and his insinuations not believed, he having but too long imposed upon the credulity and good nature of many, who, now perceiving the cheat, wilt scarcely suffer themselves to be decoyed a second time. And, as France was diligent to sow these divisions and jealousies amongst them at home, so was he no less industrious in fomenting differences between England and them, as knowing very well, that these neighbouring powers, when joined together, are able to give check to his pride, and set bounds to his ambition. How pleasing a sight is it to the French king to see them engaged one against each other, and pur, suing his interest at so vast an expence of their own blood and treasure? The last war between those two states was some difference about matters of commerce, and, whilst the King of England was arming, the French king offered to engage in a treaty with Holland, on purpose to amuse and divert them from putting themselves in a posture of defence, as they soon after perceived; when France, instead of concluding the treaty, begun with them, and declared himself for England; and, whilst the latter attacked them by sea, he invaded their country with a puissant army; and, supposing the conquest of those provinces indubitable, they had before hand divided them amongst themselves, England being to have for its share all the maritime places, and France all the rest; Amsterdam only proved a bone of contention, and occasioned some difference between them, both the one and the other desiring it for his share; though indeed they had no reason to be in a heat about it, seeing all this was but reckoning without their host, God preserving it from falling into either of their hands. Thus, a peace being, at last, concluded with England, the spirit of France was at work again to withdraw the states from their allies; and, finding that things were about to change face, and that the Dutch, being roused by a discovery of the artifices and treachery of France, began to look about them, and their troops, having a good general + at the head of them, became consi. derable and formidable, he thought fit, for a while, to dismiss the lion and act the fox, restoring Maestricht unto them, in order to obtain the peace of Nimeguen. Since which time that king has contented himself to bark afar off, and was so apprehensive of the States raising the last six-thousand men, that Count D’Avaux spared nothing to prevent it,# and will do so still, as often as the States shall go
. And whoever reads of the negotiations of Mr. Belisle in Germany, and the intrigues of Mr. Chetardie of late in Muscory, cannot think that these two ministers fall any wise short in the art of lyi..g. treachery, corrupliun, and treason. William, Prince of Orange.
* Did not Mr. Fenelon do the same lately?
about to arm themselves, because that would stop the great Lewis in the full career of his conquests, and make his designs to prove abortive. I say again, that it is the great concern of Holland, not to suffer the Spanish Netherlands to be lost, except they desire, at the same time, to become a prey to the usurper. For, how easily will he find an occasion of quarrel with them? and, if all else fail, he will make out his pretensions and right to those provinces, for that they formerly belonged to Mary of Burgundy, Philip the First, Charles the Fifth, and afterwards to Philip the Second, who were, without contest, the lawful possessors thereof, and that, afterwards rebelling, they obtained, by force, an acknowledgment of their being a free state. He will proffer to maintain them in all their liberties and privileges, and the free exercise of their religion, in case they willingly submit to him ; which, if they should hearken to, he will by little and little clip their franchises, and remove all protestants from places of trust, as he has done at home; and, if they yield not willingly, he will attack them with an armed hand, as he did in 1672, being sure the Roman Catholick Princes will not oppose him, because he has blinded their eyes with the false pretence of religion, But, if the house of Austria be not aware betimes of the spares he lays for them under these specious pretexts, they will find them. selves deceived, when it is too late to recall their inadvertency.
To return to the United Provinces, I say, they ought, next to God, not to rely upon any thing so much as their own forces; and having nothing so much to fear as France, they ought to provide and strengthen themselves against his power chiefly, who has, for this great while, been plotting and contriving their final overthrow, or, at least, the bringing of them so low, as to be forced to depend solely upon, and truckle under him. It has some time since been ob. served, that France has had a strong desire to make Holland listen to the proposal and treaty, which the wolf in the fable made with the sheep: . Put away from you (said the wolf to those harmless crea. tures) your shepherd and dog, and we will make an alliance, and ! live in love and amity together. In like manner, says Lewis the Great," Dismiss your general, and disband your old troops; for, ! to what purpose those unnecessary charges in a time of peace; esa specially being so well assured of our friendship, by the truce I am
engaged in, and the word of a king, which you may safely rely on,
that we will live in all amity and good correspondence with you?' But what says the Italian: • Trust not, if thou would'st not be
cheated.' So that it is still safest for Holland to rely wholly on its own strength, and to have always a good fleet at sea, to serve for convoy and cruising, besides a reserve in readiness to join them, in case of need. A good navy may well be called the right hand of that go. vernment, being of great use in dispelling many clouds and ill de. signs which France hatcheth against his neighbours. And, if ever the States should come to a resolution, continually to keep in pay a certain number of seamen, to be ready to be put a board their men of war, at any time, this would produce a double effect.
upon occasion (without the expence of trouble and time in raising of them) who, by their continual employment, would be trained up, and well used to the sea, and naval conflicts.
The second is, that by this means they would not fail to draw à great number of seamen from the neighbouring coasts, continual pay being no small encouragement to mariners, to betake themselves to the service of those that offer it, but more especially the States subjects, in foreign service, would not fail to return to their own country, to enjoy the benefit of being maintained all the year round.
To effect which, the States need only to publish a placart, strictly enjoining all seamen, their subjects, in foreign service, to return home. True, indeed, it is, that the navy of France will but be little the better for it; for I dare affirm, they can fit out very few men of war, without putting some Dutch mariners, especially pilots, a-board them, as trusting more to their knowledge and experience than their own, who are often at a loss in long voyages. Which good and whole. some resolution, whenever the States shall be pleased to take, you will presently see the spirit of France strangely exasperated and disturbed, and his ambassador running from one city to another, to represent his master's just reasons against it. But it is hoped, that, as Count D’Avaus has much laid open himself to an obvious discovery, by the small effects his promises have had hitherto, as not being seasoned with the salt of truth and honesty (the main thing that keeps up the credit and reputation of a minister in foreign countries) so he will do nothing but catch cold. However, I cannot deny, but the French king is beholden to that great minister, for his having inspired a fondness for France into the minds of several of the States subjects, which their lordships have no reason to thank him for. Besides this, France receives no small service from the Jesuits, and other foreign priests, residing in the United Provinces, who have pensions allowed them, to pry into, and engage the inclinations of many there. These spieś are in the prince's court, where they have friends, by whose means they make a shift to pry into the very secrets of the cabinet. How many of this sort of cattle are there in the States troops and garisons, who have their correspondents at the Hague, where the general office of intelligence is kept, as being the center of that government. This is a thing that ought to be more narrowly looked to, these spies being no other but the emissaries of France, who is always restless, and spares nothing that may further his designs. I remember, that not long since four ducatoons a week were proffered a servant of a deputy of the States, only to report what he heard from his master, at table, or in conversation with others; but the servant, with sharp words, rejected the proffer, as became an honest man.
This instance shews, that France sets upon people every way, and that, therefore, one had need always to stand upon his guard to avoid the blow. I have also observed, that there are another sort of petty spies, that run up and down the chief towns, especially the Hague, daily shifting their ordinaries, except they find occasion to stay longer, and are in prospect of some advantage to be reaped there, of whom those, who are obliged to frequent such houses,