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When the inhabitants of the Low-Countries had formed their system of government, and some remission of the war gave them leisure to form schemes of future prosperity, they easily perceived, that as their territories were narrow, and their numbers small, they could preserve themselves only by that power which is the consequence of wealth; and that, by a people whose country produced only the necessaries of life, wealth was not to be acquired, but from foreign dominions, and by the transportation of the products of one country into another.

From this necessity, thus justly estimated, arose a plan of commerce, which was for many years prosecuted with industry and success, perhaps never seen in the world before, and by which the poor tenants of mud-walled villages and impassable bogs, erected themselves into high and mighty states, who put the greatest monarchs at defiance, whose alliance was courted by the proudest, and whose power was dreaded by the fiercest nation. By the establishment of this state there arose to England a new ally, and a new rival.

At this time, which seems to be the period destined for the change of the face of Europe, France began first to rise into power; and, from defending her own provinces with difficulty and fluctuating success, to threaten her neighbours with incroachments and devastations. Henry the Fourth baving, after a long struggle, obtained the crown, found it easy to govern nobles exhausted and wearied with a long civil "war, and having composed the disputes between the Protestants and Papists, so as to obtain at least a truce for both parties, was at leisure to accumulate treasure, and raise forces which he purposed to have employed in a design of settling for ever the balance of Europe. Of this great scheme he lived not to see the vanity, or to feel the disappointment; for he was murdered in the midst of his mighty preparations.

The French, however, were in this reign taught to know their own power; and the great designs of a king, whose wisdom they had so long experienced, even though they were not brought to actual experiment, disposed them to consider themselves as masters of the destiny of their neighbours; and, from that time, he that shall nicely examine their schemes and conduct, will, I believe, find that they began to take an air of superiority to which they had never pretended before, and that they have been always employed more or less openly upon schemes of dominion, though with frequent interruptions from domestick troubles, and with those intermissions which human counsels must always suffer, as men intrusted with great affairs are dissipated in youth, and languid in age, are embarrassed by competitors, or, without any external reason, change their minds.

France was now no longer in dread of insults and invasions from England. She was not only able to maintain her own territories, but prepared, on all occasions, to invade others; and we had now a neighbour whose interest it was to be an enemy, and who has disturbed us, from that time to this, with open hostility or secret machinations.

Such was the state of England and its neighbours, when Elizabeth left the crown to James of

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Scotland. It has not, I think, been frequently observed by historians at how critical a time the union of the two kingdoms happened. Had England and Scotland continued separate kingdoms, when France was established in the full possession of her natural power, the Scots, in continuance of the league, which it would now have been more than ever their interest to observe, would, upon every instigation of the French court, have raised an army with French money, and harassed us with an invasion, in which they would have thought themselves successful, whatever numbers they might have left behind them. To a people warlike and indigent, an incursion into a rich country is never hurtful. The pay of France and the plunder of the northern counties, would always have tempted them to hazard their lives, and we should have been under a necessity of keeping a line of garrisons along our border.

This trouble, however, we escaped by the accession of king James; but it is uncertain, whether his natural disposition did not injure us more than this accidental condition happened to benefit us. He was a man of great theoretical knowledge, but of no practical wisdom; he was very well able to discern the true interest of himself, his kingdom, and his posterity, but sacrificed it, upon all occasions, to his present pleasure or his present ease; so conscious of his own knowledge and abilities, that he would not suffer a minister to govern, and so lax of attention, and timorous of opposition, that he was not able to govern for himself. With this character James quietly saw the Dutch invade our

commerce; the French grew every day stronger and stronger; and the Protestant interest, of which he boasted himself the head, was oppressed on every side, while he writ, and hunted, and dispatched ambassadors, who, when their master's weakness was once known, were treated in foreign courts with very little ceremony. James, however, took care to be flattered at home, and was neither angry nor ashamed at the appearance that he made in other countries.

Thus England grew weaker, or, what is in political estimation the same thing, saw her neighbours grow stronger, without receiving proportionable additions to her own power. Not that the mischief was so great as it is generally conceived or represented; for, I believe, it may be made to appear, that the wealth of the nation was, in this reign, very much increased, though that of the crown was lessened. Our reputation for war was impaired; but commerce seems to have been carried on with great industry and vigour, and nothing was wanting, but that we should have defended ourselves from the incroachments of our neighbours.

The inclination to plant colonies in America still continued, and this being the only project in which men of adventure and enterprise could exert their qualities in a pacifick reign, multitudes, who were discontented with their condition in their native country, and such multitudes there will always be, sought relief, or at least a change in the western regions, where they settled in the northern part of the continent, at a distance from the Spaniards,



at that time almost the only nation that had any power or will to obstruct us.

Such was the condition of this country when the unhappy Charles inherited the crown. He had seen the errors of his father, without being able to prevent them, and, when he began his reign, endeavoured to raise the nation to its former dignity. The French Papists had begun a new war upon the Protestants: Charles sent a fleet to invade Rhée and relieve Rochelle, but his attempts were defeated, and the Protestants were subdued. The Dutch, grown wealthy and strong, claimed the right of fishing in the British seas: this claim the king, who saw the increasing power of the states of Holland, resolved to contest. But for this end it was necessary to build a fleet, and a fleet could not be built without expence: he was advised to levy shipmoney, which


occasion to the Civil War, of which the events and conclusion are too well known.

While the inhabitants of this island were embroiled among themselves, the power of France and Holland was every day increasing. The Dutch had overcome the difficulties of their infant commonwealth ; and as they still retained their vigour and industry, from rich grew continually richer, and from powerful more powerful. They extended their traffick, and had not yet admitted luxury; so that they had the means and the will to accumulate wealth without any incitement to spend it. The French, who wanted nothing to make them powerful, but a prudent regulation of their revenues, and a proper use of their natural advantages, by the successive care of skilful ministers, became every day stronger, and more conscious of their strength


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