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to the liberties of Europe, poffefling all the advantages of the former, and labouring under none of its defecis; except a share of that spirit of bigotry and persecution, with which the house of Austria was so long, and still is so much infatuated.
In the general wars, maintained against this ambitious power, Britain has stood foremost; and she still maintains her station. Beside her advantages of riches and situation, her people are animated with fuch a national spirit, and are so fully sensible of the blessings of their government, that we may hope their vigour never will languish in so necessary and so just a cause. On the contrary, if we may judge by the past, their passionate ardour seems rather to require some moderation; and they have oftener erred from a laudable excess than from a blameable deficiency.
In the first place, we seem to have been more poffeffed with the ancient Greek spirit of jealous emulation, than actuated by the prudent views of modern politics. Our wars with FRANCE have been begun with justice, and even, perhaps, from neceflity; but have always been too far, pushed from obstinacy and passion. The same peace, which was afterwards made at RYSWICK in 1697, was offered so early as the year ninety-two; that con
cluded at UTRECHT in 1712 might have been finished • on as good conditions at GERTRUYTENBERG in the year
eight; and we might have given at FRANKFORT, in 1723, the same terms, which we were glad to accept of at AIX-LA-CHAPELLE in the year forty-eight. Here then we see, that above half of our wars with FRANCE, and all our public debts, are owing more to our own imprudent vehemence, than to the ambition of our neighbours.
In the fecond place, we are so declared in our oppofi. tion to FRENCH power, and so alert in defence of our allies, that they always reckon upon our force as upon their own; and expecting to carry on war at our ex. pence, refuse all reasonable terms of accommodation. Habent subjectas, tanquam suos; viles, ut alienos. All the world knows, that the factious vote of the House of Commons, in the beginning of the last parliament, with the profefled humour of the nation, made the queen of HUNGARY inflexible in her terms, and prevented that agreement with PRUSSIA, which would immediately have restored the general tranquillity of EUROPE.
In the third place, we are such true combatants, that, when once engaged, we lose all concern for ourselves and our pofterity, and consider only how we may best annoy the enemy. To mortgage our revenues at so deep a rate, in wars, where we were only accessories, was surely the most fatal delusion, that a nation, which had any pretenfion to politics and prudence, has ever yet been guilty of. That remedy of funding, if it be a remedy, and not rather a poison, ought, in all reason, to be reserved to the last extremity; and no evil, but the greatest and most urgent, should ever induce us to embrace so dan. gerous an expedient,
Thefe excefles, to which we have been carried, are prejudicial; and may, perhaps, in time, become still more prejudicial another way, by begetting, as is usual, the opposite extreme, and rendering us totally careless and supine with regard to the fate of EUROPE. The ATHENIANS, from the most bustling, intriguing, warlike people of Greece, finding their error in thrusting themselves into every quarrel, abandoned all attention to foreign affairs; and in no contest, ever took part on either 5
fide, except by their flatteries and complaisance to the victor.
Enormous monarchies are, probably, destructive to human nature ; in their progress, in their continuance +, and even in their downfal, which never can be very distant from their establishment. The military genius, which aggrandized the monarchy, soon leaves the court, the capital, and the center of such a government; while the wars are carried on at a great distance, and interest so small a part of the state. The ancient nobility, whose affections attach them to their sovereign, live all at court; and never will accept of military employments, which would carry them to remote and barbarous frontiers, where they are distant both from their pleasures and their fortune. The arms of the state, must, therefore, be entrusted to mercenary strangers, without zeal, without attachment, without honour; ready on every occasion to turn them against the prince, and join each desperate malcontent, who offers pay and plunder. This is the necessary progress of human affairs : 'Thus human nature checks itself in its airy elevations: Thus ambition blindly labours for the destruction of the conqueror, of his family, and of every thing near and dear to him. The BourBONS, trusting to the support of their brave, faithful, and affectionate nobility, would push their advantage, with out reserve or limitation. These, while fired with glory and emulation, can bear the fatigues and dangers of war; but never would submit to languish in the garrisons of HUNGARY or LITHUANIA, forgot at court, and sacrificed to the intrigues of every minion or mistress, who ap
+ If the Roman empire was of advantage, it could only proceed from this, that mankind were generally in a very disorderly, uncivilized condition, before its establishment,
proaches the prince. The troops are filled with CRAVates and TARTARS, HUSSARS and Cossacs; intermingled, perhaps, with a few soldiers of fortune from the better provinces : And the melancholy fate of the Roman emperors, from the same cause, is renewed over and over again, till the final dissolution of the monarchy.
E S S AY
Of T A X E S.
HERE is a prevailing maxim, among some rea
soners, that every new tax creates a new ability in the subject to bear it, and that each encrease of public burdens encreases proportionably the iudustry of the people. This maxim is of such a nature as is most likely to be abused; and is so much the more dangerous, as its truth cannot be altogether denied: but it must be owned, when kept within certain bounds, to have some foundation in reason and experience.
When a tax is laid upon commodities, which are consumed by the common people, the necessary consequence may seem to be, either that the poor must retrench something from their way of living, or raise their wages, so as to make the burden of the tax fall entirely upon the rich But there is a third consequence, which often follows upon taxes, namely, that the poor encrease their industry, perform more work, and live as well as before, without demanding more for their labour. Where taxes are moderate, are laid on gradually, and affe&t not the necessaries of life, this consequence naturally follows; and it is certain, that such difficulties often serve to excite the induftry of a people, and render them more opulent and laborious, than others, who enjoy the greatest advantages. For we may observe, as a parallel instance,