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New-English raised an army, and under the command of Pepperel took Cape-Breton, with the assistance of the fleet. This is the most important fortress in America. We pleased ourselves so much with the acquisition, that we could not think of restoring it; and, among the arguments used to enflame the people against Charles Stuart, it was very clamorously urged, that if he gained the kingdom, he would give Cape-Breton back to the French.
The French however had a more easy expedient to regain Cape-Breton than by exalting Charles Stuart to the English throne. They took in their turn fort St. George, and had our East-India Company wholly in their power, whom they restored at the peace to their former possessions, that they may continue to export our silver.
Cape-Breton therefore was restored, and the French were re-established in America, with equal power and greater spirit, having lost nothing by the war which they had before gained.
To the general reputation of their arms, and that habitual superiority which they derive from it, they owe their power in America, rather than to any real strength, or circumstances of advantage. Their numbers are yet not great; their trade, though daily improved, is not very extensive; their country is barren; their fortresses, though numerous, are weak, and rather shelters from wild beasts, or savage nations, than places built for defence against bombs or cannons. Cape-Breton has been found not to be impregnable; nor, if weconsider 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: thé 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 the war 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 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, surprize 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.
WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1756*.
THE present system of English politicks 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 prejudice of long continuance, concludes itself more powerful as its territories become larger.
* This was the introductory article to the Literary Magazine, NOI, C.
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 expence 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 inso-' lence 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.