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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 feet could not be built without expence : he was advised to levy ship-money, which gave occasion to the civil war, of which the events and conclusion are too well known.
While the inhabitants of this island were ema broiled 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.
About this time it was, that the French first began to turn their thoughts to traffick and navigation, and to desire like other nations an American territory. All the fruitful and valuable parts of the western world were already either occupied or claimed, and nothing remained for France but the leavings of other navigators, for she was not yet haughty enough to seize what the neighbouring powers had already appropriated.
The French therefore contented themselves with sending a colony to Canada, a cold, uncomfortable, uninviting region, from which nothing but furs and fish were to be had, and where the new inhabitants could only pass a laborious and necessitous life, in perpetual regret of the deliciousness and plenty of their native country.
Notwithstanding the opinion which our countrymen have been taught to entertain of the comprehension and foresight of French politicians, I am not able to persuade myself, that when this colony was first planted, it was thought of much value, even by those that encouraged it ; there was probably nothing more intended than to provide a drain into which the waste of an exuberant nation might be thrown, a place where those who could do no good might live without the power of doing mischief. Some new advantage they undoubtedly saw, or imagined themselves to see, and what more was necessary to the establishment of the colony VOL. II.
was supplied by natural inclination to experiments, and that impatience of doing nothing, to which mankind perhaps owe much of what is imagined to be effected by more splendid motives.
In this region of desolate sterility they settled themselves, upon whatever principle; and as they have from that time hac the happiness of a government by which no interest has been neglected, nor any part of their subjects overlooked, they have, by continual encouragement and assistance from France, been perpetually enlarging their bounds and increasing their numbers.
These were at first, like other nations who invaded America, inclined to consider the neighbourhood of the natives, as troublesome and dangerous, and are charged with having destroyed great numbers: but they are now grown wiser, if not honester, and instead of endeavouring to frighten the Indians away, they invite them to intermarriage and cohabitation, and allure them by all practicable methods to become the subjects of the king of France.
If the Spaniards, when they first took possession of the newly-discovered world, instead of destroying the inhabitants by thousands, had either had the urbanity or the policy to have conciliated them by kind treatment, and to have united them gradually to their own people, such an accession might have been made to the power of the king of Spain, as would have made him far the greatest monarch that ever yet ruled in the globe; but the opportunity was lost by foolishness and cruelty, and now can never be recovered.
When the parliament had finally prevailed over
our king, and the army over the parliament, the interest of the two commonwealths of England and Holland soon appeared to be opposite, and a new government declared war against the Dutch. In this contest was exerted the utmost power of the two nations, and the Dutch were finally defeated, yet not with such evidence of superiority as left us much reason to boast our victory; they were obliged however to solicit peace, which was granted them on easy conditions; and Cromwell, who was now possessed of the supreme power, was left at leisure to pursue other designs.
The European powers had not yet ceased to look with envy on the Spanish acquisitions in America, and therefore Cromwell thought, that if he gained any part of these celebrated regions, he should exalt his own reputation and enrich the country. He therefore quarrelled with the Spaniards upon some such subject of contention as he that is resolved upon hostility may always find, and sent Penn and Venables into the western seas. They first landed in Hispaniola, whence they were driven off with no great reputation to themselves; and that they might not return without having done something, they afterwards invaded Jamaica, where they found less resistance, and obtained that island, which was afterwards consigned to us, being probably of little value to the Spaniards, and continues to this day a place of great wealth, and dreadful wickedness, a den of tyrants, and a dungeon of slaves.
Cromwell, who perhaps had not leisure to study foreign politicks, was very fatally mistaken with tegard to Spain and France. Spain had been the last
last power in Europe, 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
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 monarchs, 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