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TRACT II. - Josiah Tucker, Four Tracts on Political and Commercial Subjects 
Four Tracts on Political and Commercial Subjects, 2nd edition (Glocester: R. Raikes, 1774).
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The CASE of going to War; BEING The Fragment of a greater Work.
Prevention of Wars.
DID the Difficulty in this Argument consist in the Dubiousness of the Fact, ‘Whether Wars were destructive to Mankind, or not,’ that Difficulty would not long subsist; for, if ocular Demonstration can be allowed to be Proof, it is but too manifest, That both the conquering, and conquered Countries, are prodigious Losers by them. But, alas! in this Case the Difficulty lies not in the Obscurity of the Proof, but in the Feebleness of the Attempt to dissuade Men from a Practice they have been long accustomed to consider in a very different Light from that in which it will be here set forth: And such is the Inveteracy of bad Habits, such the bewitching, tho’ empty Sounds of Conquest and Glory, that there remains only the bare Possibility of Hopes of Success in these Endeavours; for as to all the Degrees of Probability, they are certainly on the contrary Side.
However, as the Nature of my Argument leads me to set forth the several Means of rendering a Country populous, certainly the Prevention of Wars, as one of the most capital Means, cannot be omitted: And therefore I must consider myself in this Case as People do when they commence Adventurers in a Lottery; where, though there are perhaps almost an infinite Number of Chances against any single Adventurer, yet every Individual cherishes the flattering Expectation, that he shall be the happy Man to whose Share the great Prize will fall. Now, if a Conduct, grounded on so much Improbability, can escape the Censure of general Ridicule, it is to be hoped, that my Folly, for such I acknowledge it, may escape likewise; at least, as it is of so innocent and harmless a Nature, let me be allowed to petition, that mine may be esteemed less irrational than that military and political Folly which consists in seeking for Empire by Means of Desolation, and for national Riches by introducing universal Poverty and Want.
In ancient Times, Men went to War without much Ceremony or Pretence: It was thought Reason good enough to justify the Deed, if one Man liked what another Man had; and War and Robbery were the honourable Professions: Nothing was adjudged dishonourable but the Arts of Peace and Industry. This is Herodotus’s Account of the Manner of living of the Barbarians of Thrace; and this, with very small Alterations, might serve to characterise all other Barbarians, either of ancient or modern Times.
But at present, we, who chuse to call ourselves civilized Nations, generally affect a more ceremonious Parade, and many Pretences. Complaints are first made of some Injury received, some Right violated, some Incroachment, Detention, or Usurpation; and none will acknowledge themselves to be the Aggressors; nay, a solemn Appeal is made to Heaven for the Truth of each Assertion; and the final Avenger of the Oppressed, and Searcher of all Hearts, is called upon to maintain the righteous Cause, and to punish the wrong Doer. Thus it is with both Parties; and while neither of them will own their true Motives, perhaps it is apparent to all the World, that, on one Side, if not on both, a Thirst of Glory, a Lust of Dominion, the Cabals of Statesmen, or the ravenous Appetites of Individuals for Power or Plunder, for Wealth without Industry, and Greatness without Merit, were the only real and genuine Springs of Action.
Now the Aims of Princes in these Wars are partly the same with, and partly different from, those of their Subjects: As far as Renown is concerned, their Views are alike, for Heroism is the Wish and Envy of all Mankind; and to be a Nation of Heroes, under the Conduct of an heroic Leader, is regarded, both by Prince and People, as the Summit of all earthly Happiness. It is really astonishing to think with what Applause and Eclat the Memoirs of such inhuman Monsters are transmitted down, in all the Pomp of Prose and Verse, to distant Generations: Nay, let a Prince but feed his Subjects with the empty Diet of military Fame, it matters not what he does besides, in regard to themselves as well as others; for the Lives and Liberties, and every Thing that can render Society a Blessing, are willingly offered up as a Sacrifice to this Idol, Glory. And were the Fact to be examined into, you would find, perhaps without a single Exception, that the greatest Conquerors abroad, have proved the heaviest Tyrants at Home. However, as Victory, like Charity, covereth a Multitude of Sins, thus it comes to pass, that reasonable Beings will be content to be Slaves themselves, provided they may enslave others; and while the People can look up to the glorious Hero on the Throne, they will be dazzled with the Splendor that surrounds him, and forget the Deeds of the Oppressor.
Now, from this View of Things, one would be tempted to imagine, that a Practice so universally prevailing, was founded in the Course and Constitution of Nature. One would be tempted to suppose, that Mankind were created on Purpose to be engaged in destructive Wars, and to worry and devour one another. “Perhaps the Earth would be overstocked with Numbers were it not for such Evacuations, salutary upon the whole, and necessary for the Good of the Remainder. Perhaps, likewise, there may be some Truth in what is vulgarly given out, that one Nation cannot thrive but by the Downfall, and one People cannot grow rich but by the impoverishing, of its Neighbours.”
And yet, when we examine into this Affair, neither Reason, nor Experience will give the least Countenance to this Supposition. The Reason of the Thing we will consider now, and reserve the Fact ’till by and by. Here then, if Principles of Reason are to be our Guide, one would think, that a Being overflowing with Benevolence, and not limitted in Power, might have made a much better Provision for his Cretures, than what is here suggested: Certainly he might have rendered their several Interests less repugnant to each other; or rather, he might have caused them all to spring from one common Center, or to unite in one common Basis. And we are confirmed in this Train of Reasoning, when we reflect, that even the Benevolence and Power of human Governments, narrow and imperfect as they are, do actually provide for the Safety and Welfare of their respective Subjects by this very Method of an Union and Coalition of separate Interests. Thus for Example, the Inhabitants of one County, or of one City, have not so much as an Idea, that they are, and must be, according to the unalterable Course of Things, the constitutional Foes of those of another County or City under the same Government: Nor do we at all conceive that this or that particular Town, or District, cannot grow rich, or prosper, ’till the Districts, or Towns around it are reduced to Poverty, or made a dreary Waste. On the contrary, we naturally conclude, and justly too, that their Interests are inseparable from our own: And were their Numbers to be diminished, or their Circumstances altered from Affluence to Want, we ourselves, in the Rotation of Things, should soon feel the bad Effects of such a Chance. If, therefore, this is the Case, with respect to human Governments; and if they, notwithstanding all their Faults and Failings, can regulate Matters so much for the better; how then comes it to pass, that we should ascribe so much Imperfection, such Want of Benevolence, such Partiality, nay such premeditated Mischief to that great and equal Government, which presideth over all? Is it do you think, that the Almighty God cannot govern two large Districts, France and England for Example, as well, and as wisely as you can govern two small ones? Or is it, that he hath so egregiously blundered in his first framing the Constitution of Things as to render those Exploits, called Wars, necessary for the Good of the Whole under his Administration, which you would justly consider to be a Disgrace to yours, and severely punish as an Outrage? Surely no: And we cannot without Blasphemy, ascribe that Conduct to the best of Beings; which is almost too bad to be supposed of the worst: Surely it is much more consonant to the Dictates of unbiassed Reason to believe, that our common Parent and universal Lord regards all his Children and Subjects with an Eye of equal Tenderness and Good-will; and to be firmly persuaded, that in his Plan of Government the political Interest of Nations cannot be repugnant to those moral Duties of Humanity and Love which he has so universally prescribed.
So much as to the Reason of the Thing: Let us now consider the Fact, and be determined by Experience. Princes expect to get by successful Wars, and a Series of Conquests, either more Territory, or more Subjects, or a more ample Revenue; or perhaps, which is generally the Case, they expect to obtain all three. Now, in regard to Territory, if mere Superficies were the Thing to be aimed at, it must be allowed, that a Country of a Million of square Miles is more in Quantity than one of half that Extent. But if Countries are not to be valued by Acres, but by the Cultivation and the Produce of those Acres, then it follows, that ten Acres may be better than a thousand, or perhaps ten thousand; and Bishop Berkley’s Query may come in here very apropos,—“May not a Man be the Proprietor of twenty Miles square in North America, and yet be in Want of a Dinner?”
As to Numbers of Subjects, surely War and Conquest are not the most likely Means for attaining this End; and a Scheme, which consists in the Destruction of the Human Species, is a very strange one indeed to be proposed for their Increase and Multiplication: Nay granting that Numbers of Subjects might be acquired, together with the Accession of Territory, still these new Subjects would add no real Strength to the State; because new Acquisitions would require more numerous Defences, and because a People scattered over an immense Tract of Country are, in fact, much weaker than half their Numbers acting in Concert together, and able by their Vicinity to succour one another.
Moreover, as to the Affair of the Revenue, and the Produce of Taxes, the same Arguments conclude equally strong in this Case as in the former: And the indisputable Fact is, that an ill-peopled Country, though large and extensive, neither produces so great a Revenue as a small one well cultivated and populous; nor if it did, would the neat Produce of such a Revenue be equal to that of the other, because it is, in a Manner, swallowed up in Governments, Guards, and Garrisons, in Salaries and Pensions, and all the consuming Perquisites and Expences attendant on distant Provinces.
In reference to the Views of the People—as far as such Views coincide with those of the Prince, so far they have been considered already: But, seeing that the Thirst of inordinate Riches in private Subjects, which pushes them on to wish so vehemently for War, has something in it distinct from the Avarice of Princes, let us now examine, whether this Trade of War is a likely Method to make a People rich, and let us consider every Plea that can be offered. “Surely, say these Men, to return Home laden with the Spoils of wealthy Nations is a compendious Way of getting Wealth; surely we cannot be deceived in so plain a Case: For we see that what has been gathering together and accumulating for Years, and perhaps for Ages, thus becomes our own at once; and more might be acquired by a happy Victory within the Compass of a Day, perhaps of an Hour, than we could otherwise promise to ourselves by the tedious Pursuits of Industry through the whole Course of a long laborious Life.”
Now, in order to treat with this People in their own Way, I would not awake them out of their present golden Dream; I would therefore suppose, that they might succeed to their Heart’s Desire, though there is a Chance at least of being disappointed, and of meeting with Captivity instead of Conquest; I will wave likewise all Considerations drawn from the intoxicating Nature of Riches, when so rapidly got, and improperly acquired: I will also grant, that great Stores of Gold and Silver, of Jewels, Diamonds, and precious Stones, may be brought Home; and that the Treasures of the Universe may, if you please, be made to circulate within the Limits of our own little Country: And if this were not enough, I would still grant more, did I really know what more could be wished for or expected.
The Soldier of Fortune, being thus made rich, sits down to enjoy the Fruits of his Conquest, and to gratify his Wishes after so much Fatigue and Toil: But alas! he presently finds, that in Proportion as this heroic Spirit and Thirst for Glory have diffused themselves among his Countrymen, in the same Proportion the Spirit of Industry hath sunk and died away; every Necessary, and every Comfort and Elegance of Life are grown dearer than before, because there are fewer Hands, and less Inclination to produce them; at the same Time his own Desires, and artificial Wants, instead of being lessened, are greatly multiplied; for of what Use are Riches to him unless enjoyed? Thus therefore it comes to pass, that his Heaps of Treasure are like the Snow in Summer, continually melting away; so that the Land of Heroes soon becomes the Country of Beggars. His Riches, it it true, rushed in upon him like a Flood; but, as he had no Means of retaining them, every Article he wanted or wished for, drained away his Stores like the Holes in a Sieve, ’till the Bottom became quite dry: In short, in this Situation the Sums, which are daily and hourly issuing out, are not to be replaced but by a new War, and a new Series of Victories; and these new Wars and new Victories do all enhance the former Evils; so that the relative Poverty of the Inhabitants of this warlike Country becomes so much the greater, in Proportion to their Success in the very Means mistakenly proposed for enriching them.
A few indeed, excited by the strong Instinct of an avaricious Temper, may gather and scrape up what the many are squandering away; and so the Impoverishment of the Community may become the Enrichment of the Individual. But it is utterly impossible, that the great Majority of any Country can grow wealthy by that Course of Life which renders them both very extravagant, and very idle.
To illustrate this Train of Reasoning, let us have recourse to Facts: But let the Facts be such as my Opponents in this Argument would wish of all others to have produced on this Occasion: And as the Example of the Romans is eternally quoted, from the Pamphleteer in the Garret, to the Patriot in the Senate, as extremely worthy of the Imitation of Britons, let their Example decide the Dispute. “The brave Romans! That glorious! That godlike People! The Conquerors of the World! Who made the most haughty Nations to submit! Who put the Wealthiest under Tribute, and brought all the Riches of the Universe to centre in the Imperial City of Rome!”
Now this People, at the Beginning of their State, had a Territory not so large as one of our middling Counties, and neither healthy, nor fertile in its Nature; yet, by Means of Frugality and Industry, and under the Influence of Agrarian Laws (which allotted from two to six, or eight, or perhaps ten Acres of Land to each Family) they not only procured a comfortable Subsistence, but also were enabled to carry on their petty Wars without Burden to the State, or pay to the Troops; each Husbandman or little Freeholder serving gratis, and providing his own Cloaths and Arms during the short Time that was necessary for him to be absent from his Cottage and Family on such Expeditions.
But when their Neighbours were all subdued, and the Seat of War removed to more distant Countries, it became impossible for them to draw their Subsistence from their own Farms; or in other Words, to serve gratis any longer; and therefore they were under a Necessity to accept of Pay. Moreover, as they could seldom visit their little Estates, these Farms were unavoidably neglected, and consequently were soon disposed of to engrossing Purchasers: And thus it came to pass, that the Lands about Rome, in Spite of the Agrarian Laws, and of the several Revivals of those Laws, were monopolized into a few Hands by Dint of their very Conquests and Successes: And thus also the Spirit of Industry began to decline, in Proportion as the military Genius gained the Ascendant* . A Proof of this we have in Livy, even so far back as the Time of their last King Tarquinius Superbus: For one of the Complaints brought against that Prince was couched in the following Terms, That having employed his Soldiers in making Drains and Common Sewers, “they thought it an high Disgrace to Warriors to be treated as Mechanics, and that the Conquerors of the neighbouring Nations should be degraded into Stone-cutters and Masons,” though these Works were not the Monuments of unmeaning Folly, or the Works of Ostentation, but evidently calculated for the Health of the Citizens and the Convenience of the Public. Had he led forth these indignant Heroes to the Extirpation of some neighbouring State, they would not have considered that as a Dishonour to their Character.
But to proceed: The Genius of Rome being formed for War, the Romans pushed their Conquests over Nations still more remote: But alas! the Quirites, the Body of the People, were so far from reaping any Advantage from these new Triumphs, that they generally found themselves to be poorer at the End of their most glorious Wars than before they begun them. At the Close of each successful War it was customary to divide a Part of the Lands of the vanquished among the veteran Soldiers, and to grant them a Dismission in order to cultivate their new Acquisitions. But such Estates being still more distant from the City, became in fact so much the less valuable; and the new Proprietor had less Inclination than ever to forsake the Capital, and to banish himself to these distant Provinces. [For here let it be noted, that Rome was become by this Time the Theatre of Pleasure, as well as the Seat of Empire; where all, who wished to act a Part on the Stage of Ambition, Popularity, or Politics; all who wanted to be engaged in Scenes of Debauchery, or Intrigues of State; all, in short, who had any Thing to spend, or any Thing to expect, made Rome their Rendezvous, and resorted thither as to a common Mart] This being the Case, it is not at all surprising, that these late Acquisitions were deserted and sold for a very Trifle; nor that the Mass of the Roman People were so immersed in Debt, as we find by their own Historians, when we reflect, that their military Life indisposed them for Agriculture or Manufactures, and that their Notions of Conquest and of Glory rendered them extravagant, prodigal, and vain.
However, in this Manner they went on, continuing to extend their Victories and their Triumphs; and, after the Triumph, subsisting for a while by the Sale of the Lands above-mentioned, or by their Shares in the Division of the Booty: But when these were spent, as they quickly were, then they sunk into a more wretched State of Poverty than before, eagerly wishing for a new War as the only Means of repairing their desperate Fortunes, and clamouring against every Person that would dare to appear as an Advocate for Peace: And thus they encreased their Sufferings, instead of removing them.
At last they subdued the World, as far as it was known at that Time, or thought worth subduing; and then both the Tribute, and the Plunder of the Universe were imported into Rome; then, therefore, the Bulk of the Inhabitants of that City must have been exceedingly wealthy, had Wealth consisted in Heaps of Gold and Silver; and then likewise, if ever, the Blessings of Victory must have been felt had it been capable of producing any. But alas! whatever Riches a few Grandees, the Leaders of Armies, the Governors of Provinces, the Minions of the Populace, or the Harpies of Oppression might have amassed together, the great Majority of the People were poor and miserable beyond Expression; and while the vain Wretches were strutting with Pride, and elated with Insolence, as the Masters of the World, they had no other Means of subsisting, when Peace was made, and their Prize-Money spent, than to receive a Kind of Alms in Corn from the public Granaries, or to carry about their Bread Baskets, and beg from Door to Door. Moreover, such among them as had chanced to have a Piece of Land left unmortgaged, or something valuable to pledge, found to their Sorrow, that the Interest of Money (being hardly ever less than twelve per Cent. and frequently more) would soon eat up their little Substance, and reduce them to an Equality with the rest of their illustrious Brother-Beggars. Nay, so extremely low was the Credit of these Masters of the World, that they were trusted with the Payment of their Interest no longer than from Month to Month,—than which there cannot be a more glaring Proof, both of the abject Poverty, and of the cheating Dispositions of these heroic Citizens of Imperial Rome.
Now this being the undoubted Fact, every humane and benevolent Man, far from considering these People as Objects worthy of Imitation, will look upon them, with a just Abhorrence and Indignation; and every wise State, consulting the Good of the Whole, will take Warning by their fatal Example, and stifle, as much as possible, the very Beginnings of such a Roman Spirit in its Subjects.
The Case of the ancient Romans having thus been considered at large, less may be requisite as to what is to follow. And therefore suffice it to observe, that the Wars of Europe for these two hundred Years last past, by the Confession of all Parties, have really ended in the Advantage of none, but to the manifest Detriment of all: Suffice it farther to remark, that had each of the contending Powers employed their Subjects in cultivating and improving such Lands as were clear of all disputed Titles, instead of aiming at more extended Possessions, they had consulted both their own and their People’s Greatness much more efficaciously, than by all the Victories of a Cæsar, or an Alexander
Upon the Whole, therefore, it is evident to a Demonstration, that nothing can result from such Systems as these, however specious and plausible in Appearance, but Disappointment, Want, and Beggary. For the great Laws of Providence, and the Course of Nature, are not to be reversed or counter-acted by the feeble Efforts of wayward Man; nor will the Rules of sound Politics ever bear a Separation from those of true and genuine Morality. Not to mention, that the Victors themselves will experience it to their Costs sooner or later, that in vanquishing others, they are only preparing a more magnificent Tomb for their own Interrment.
In short, the good Providence of God hath, as it were, taken peculiar Pains to preclude Mankind from having any plausible Pretence for pursuing either this, or any other Scheme of Depopulation. And the Traces of such preventing Endeavours, if I may so speak, are perfectly legible both in the natural, and in the moral Worlds.
In the natural World, our bountiful Creator hath formed different Soils, and appointed different Climates; whereby the Inhabitants of different Countries may supply each other with their respective Fruits and Products; so that by exciting a reciprocal Industry, they may carry on an Intercourse mutually beneficial, and universally benevolent.
Nay more, even where there is no remarkable Difference of Soil, or of Climates, we find a great Difference of Talents; and if I may be allowed the Expression, a wonderful Variety of Strata in the human Mind. Thus, for Example, the Alteration of Latitude between Norwich and Manchester, and the Variation of Soil are not worth naming; moreover, the Materials made Use of in both Places, Wool, Flax, and Silk, are just the same; yet so different are the Productions of their respective Looms, that Countries, which are thousands of Miles apart, could hardly exhibit a greater Contrast. Now, had Norwich and Manchester been the Capitals of two neighbouring Kingdoms, instead of Love and Union, we should have heard of nothing but Jealousies and Wars; each would have prognosticated, that the flourishing State of the one portended the Downfall of the other; each would have had their respective Complaints, uttered in the most doleful Accents, concerning their own Loss of Trade, and of the formidable Progress of their Rivals; and, if the respective Governments were in any Degree popular, each would have had a Set of Patriots and Orators closing their inflammatory Harangues with a delenda est Carthago. “We must destroy our Rivals, our Competitors, and commercial Enemies, or be destroyed by them; for our Interests are opposite, and can never coincide.” And yet, notwithstanding all these canting Phrases, it is as clear as the Meridian Sun, that in Case these Cities had belonged to different Kingdoms (France and England for Example) there would then have been no more Need for either of them to have gone to War than there is at present. In short, if Mankind would but open their Eyes, they might plainly see, that there is no one Argument for inducing different Nations to fight for the Sake of Trade, but which would equally oblige every County, Town, Village, nay, and every Shop among ourselves, to be engaged in civil and intestine Wars for the same End: Nor, on the contrary, is there any Motive of Interest or Advantage that can be urged for restraining the Parts of the same Government from these unnatural and foolish Contests, but which would conclude equally strong against separate and independant Nations making War with each other on the like Pretext.
Moreover, the Instinct* of Curiosity, and the Thirst of Novelty, which are so universally implanted in human Nature, whereby various Nations and different People so ardently wish to be Customers to each other, is another Proof, that the curious Manufactures of one Nation will never want a Vent among the richer Inhabitants of another, provided they are reasonably cheap and good; so that the richer one Nation is, the more it has to spare, and the more it will certainly lay out on the Produce and Manufactures of its ingenious Neighbour. Do you object to this? Do you envy the Wealth, or repine at the Prosperity of the Nations around you?—If you do, consider what is the Consequence, viz. that you wish to keep a Shop, but hope to have only Beggars for your Customers.
Lastly, the good Providence of God has further ordained, that a Multiplication of Inhabitants in every Country should be the best Means of procuring Fertility to the Ground, and of Knowledge and Ability to the Tiller of it: Hence it follows, that an Increase of Numbers, far from being a Reason for going to War in order to thin them, or for sending them out to people remote Desarts, operates both as an exciting Cause to the Husbandman to increase his Quantity, in Proportion to the Demand at Market; and also enables him to raise more plentiful Crops, by the Variety and Plenty of those rich Manures, which the Concourse of People, their Horses, Cattle, &c. &c. produce: And it is remarkable, that very populous Countries are much less subject to Dearth or Famines than any other.—So much as to those Stores of Providence, which are laid up in the natural World, and graciously intended for the Use of Mankind.
As to the moral and political World, Providence has so ordained, that every Nation may increase in Frugality and Industry, and consequently in Riches* , if they please; because it has given a Power to every Nation to make good Laws, and wise Regulations, for their internal Government: And none can justly blame them on this Account. Should, for Example, the Poles, or the Tartars grow weary of their present wretched Systems, and resolve upon a better Constitution; should they prefer Employment to Sloth, Liberty to Slavery, and Trade and Manufactures to Theft and Robbery; should they give all possible Freedom and Encouragement to industrious Artificers, and lay heavy Discouragements on Idleness and Vice, by Means of judicious Taxes; and lastly, should they root out all Notions of beggarly Pride, and of the Glory of making maroding Incursions;—what a mighty, what a happy Change would soon appear in the Face of those Countries! And what could then be said to be wanting in order to render such Nations truely rich and great?
Perhaps some neighbouring State (entertaining a foolish Jealousy) would take the Alarm, that their Trade was in Danger. But if they attempted to invade such a Kingdom, they would find to their Cost, that an industrious State, abounding with People and with Riches, having its Magazines well stored, its frontier Towns* well fortified, the Garrisons duly paid, and the whole Country full of Villages and Enclosures; I say, they would feel to their Cost, that such a State is the strongest of all others, and the most difficult to be subdued: Not to mention that other Potentates would naturally rise up for its Defence and Preservation; because, indeed, it would be their interest that such a State as this should not be swallowed up by another, and because they themselves might have many Things to hope from it, and nothing to fear.
But is this Spell, this Witchcraft, of the Jealousy of Trade never to be dissolved? And are there no Hopes that Mankind will recover their Senses as to these Things? For of all Absurdities, that of going to War for the Sake of getting Trade is the most absurd; and nothing in Nature can be so extravagantly foolish. Perhaps you cannot digest this; you don’t believe it:—I grant, therefore, that you subdue your Rival by Force of Arms: Will that Circumstance render your Goods cheaper at Market than they were before? And if it will not, nay if it tends to render them much dearer, what have you got by such a Victory? I ask further, What will be the Conduct of foreign Nations when your Goods are brought to their Markets? They will never enquire, whether you were victorious or not; but only, whether you will fell cheaper, or at least as cheap as others? Try and see, whether any Persons, or any Nations, ever yet proceeded upon any other Plan; and if they never did, and never can be supposed to do so, then it is evident to a Demonstration, that Trade will always follow Cheapness, and not Conquest. Nay, consider how it is with yourselves at Home: Do Heroes and Bruisers get more Customers to their Shops because they are Heroes and Bruisers? Or, would not you yourself rather deal with a feeble Person, who will use you well, than with a Brother-Hero, should he demand a higher Price?
Now all these Facts are so very notorious, that none can dispute the Truth of them. And throughout the Histories of all Countries, and of all Ages, there is not a single Example to the contrary. Judge, therefore, from what has been said, whether any one Advantage can be obtained to Society, even by the most successful Wars, that may not be incomparably greater, and more easily procured, by the Arts of Peace.
As to those who are always clamouring for War, and sounding the Alarm to Battle, let us consider who they are, and what are their Motives; and then it will be no difficult Matter to determine concerning the Deference that ought to be paid to their Opinions, and the Merit of their patriotic Zeal.
1. The first on the List here in Britain (for different Countries have different Sorts of Firebrands) I say the first here in Britain is the Mock-Patriot and furious Anti-Courtier: He, good Man, always begins with Schemes of Oeconomy, and is a zealous Promoter of national Frugality* . He loudly declaims against even a small, annual, parliamentary Army, both on Account of its Expence, and its Danger; and pretends to be struck with a Panic at every Red-Coat that he sees. By persevering in these laudable Endeavours, and by sowing the Seeds of Jealousy and Distrust among the Ignorant and Unwary, he prevents such a Number of Forces, by Sea and Land, from being kept up, as are prudently necessary for the common Safety of the Kingdom: This is one Step gained. In the next Place, after having thrown out such a tempting Bait for Foreigners to catch at, on any trifling Affront he is all on Fire; his Breast beats high with the Love of his Country, and his Soul breathes Vengeance against the Foes of Britain: Every popular Topic, and every inflammatory Harangue is immediately put into Rehearsal; and, O Liberty! O my Country! is the continual Theme. The Fire then spreads; the Souls of the noble Britons are enkindled at it; and Vengeance and War are immediately resolved upon. Then the Ministry are all in a Hurry; new Levies are half-formed, and half-disciplined:—Squadrons at Sea are half-manned, and the Officers mere Novices in their Business. In short, Ignorance, Unskilfulness, and Confusion, are unavoidable for a Time; the necessary Consequence of which is some Defeat rereceived, some Stain or Dishonour cast upon the Arms of Britain. Then the long-wished for Opportunity comes at last; the Patriot roars, the Populace clamour and address, the Ministry tremble, and the Administration sinks. The ministerial Throne now being vacant, the Patriot triumphantly ascends it, adopts those Measures he had formerly condemned, reaps the Benefit of the Preparations and Plans of his Predecessor, and, in the natural Course of Things, very probably gains some Advantages; this restores the Credit of the Arms of Britain: Now the Lion is roused, and now is the Time for crushing our Enemies, that they may never be able to rise again. This is Pretext enough; and thus the Nation is plunged into an Expence ten Times as great, and made to raise Forces twenty Times as numerous, as were complained of before. “However, being now victorious, let us follow the Blow and manfully go on, and let neither Expence of Blood nor of Treasure be at all regarded; for another Campaign will undoubtedly bring the Enemy to submit to our own Terms, and it is impossible that they should stand out any longer.” Well, another Campaign is fought,—and another,—and another,—and another, and yet the Enemy holds out; nor is the Carte blanche making any Progress in its Journey into Britain. A Peace at last is made: the Terms of it are unpopular. Schemes of excessive Œconomy are called for by a new Set of Patriots; and the same Arts are played off to dethrone the reigning Minister, which he had practised to dethrone his Predecessor. And thus the patriotic Farce goes round and round; but generally ends in a real and bloody Tragedy to our Country and to Mankind.
2. The next in this List is the hungry Pamphleteer, who writes for Bread. The Ministry will not retain him on their Side, therefore he must write against them, and do as much Mischief as he can in order to be bought off. At the worst, a Pillory, or a Prosecution is a neverfailing Remedy against a political Author’s starving; nay, perhaps it may get him a Pension or a Place at last: In the Interim, the Province of this Creature is to be a Kind of Jackall to the Patriot-Lion; for he beats the Forest, and first starts the Game; he explores the reigning Humour and Whim of the Populace, and by frequent Trials discovers the Part where the Ministry are most vulnerable. But above all, he never fails to put the Mob in Mind, of what indeed they believed before, that Politics is a Subject which every one understands,—except the Ministry; and that nothing is so easy as to bring the King of France to sue for Peace on his Knees at the Bar of a British House of Commons, were such—and such—at the Helm, as honest and uncorrupt as they ought to be. “But alas! What shall we say! French Gold will find an Admission every where; and what can we expect, when the very Persons, who ought to have saved us, have sold their Country?” This is delightful, and this, with the old Stories of Agincourt and Gressy, regales, nay intoxicates, the Mob, and inspires them with an Enthusiasm bordering upon Madness. The same Ideas return; the former Battles are fought over again; and we have already taken Possession of the Gates of Paris in the Warmth of a frantic Imagination: Though it is certain, that even were this Circumstance ever to happen, we ourselves should be the greatest Losers; for the Conquest of France by England, in the Event of Things, would come to the same Point as the Conquest of England by France; because the Seat of Empire would be transferred to the greater Kingdom, and the lesser would be made a Province to it.—[The philosophic Dr. Franklin adopts the same Ideas in regard to the present Contest between North-America and Great-Britain. He supposes, agreeably to the Newtonian Philosophy, that there is a mutual Attraction and Gravitation between these two Countries; but nevertheless, that the Powers of Gravitation and Attraction being so much stronger in the vast Continent of North-America, than in the little Spot of Great-Britain, it therefore follows, that the former will swallow up, or absorb the latter, and not vice versa. The present astonishing Emigrations from Great-Britain and Ireland seem to confirm the Hypothesis of this eminent Philosopher but too well: And it were greatly to be wished, that the magical Spell, which is made to chain this our Island to those immense Regions, were dissolved ’e’re it be too late.]
3. Near a-kin to this Man, is that other Monster of modern Times, who is perpetually declaiming against a Peace, viz. the Broker, and the Gambler of Change-alley. Letters from the Hague, wrote in a Garret at Home for Half a Guinea;—the first News of a Battle fought (it matters not how improbable) with a List of the Slain and Prisoners, their Cannon, Colours, &c. Great Firings heard at Sea between Squadrons not yet out of Port;—a Town taken before the Enemy was near it;—an intercepted Letter that never was wrote;—or, in short, any Thing else that will elate or depress the Minds of the undiscerning Multitude, serves the Purpose of the Bear or the Bull to sink or raise the Price of Stocks, according as he wishes either to buy or sell. And by these vile Means the Wretch, who perhaps the other Day came up to London in the Waggon to be an Under-Clerk or a Message Boy in a Warehouse acquires such a Fortune as sets him on a Par with the greatest Nobles of the Land.
4. The News-writers are a fourth Species of political Firebrands: A Species which abounds in this Country more than in any other; for as Men are in this Kingdom allowed greater Liberties to say, or write what they please; so likewise is the Abuse of that Blessing carried to a higher Pitch. In fact these People may be truly said to trade in Blood: For a War is their Harvest; and a Gazette Extaordinary produces a Crop of an hundred Fold: How then can it be supposed, that they can ever become the Friends of Peace? And how can you expect that any Ministers can be their Favourites, but the Ministers of War? Yet these are the Men who may be truly said to govern the Minds of the good People of England, and to turn their Affections withersoever they please; who can render any Scheme unpopular which they dislike, and whose Approbation, or Disapprobation, are regarded by Thousands, and almost by Millions, as the Standard of Right or Wrong, of Truth or Falshood: For it is a Fact, an indisputable Fact, that this Country is as much News mad, and News ridden now, as ever it was Poperymad, and Priest-ridden, in the Days of our Forefathers.
5. The Jobbers and Contractors of all Kinds and of all Degrees for our Fleets and Armies;—the Clerks and Pay-Masters in the several Departments belonging to War;—and every other Agent, who has the fingering of the public Money, may be said to constitute a distinct Brood of Vultures, who prey upon their own Species, and fatten on human Gore. It would be endless to recount the various Arts and Stratagems by which these Devourers have amassed to themselves astonishing Riches, from very slender Beginnings, through the Continuance and Extent of the War: Consequently, as long as any Prospect could remain of squeezing somewhat more out of the Pockets of an exhausted, but infatuated People; so long the American War-hoop would be the Cry of these inhuman Savages; and so long would they start and invent Objections to every Proposition that could be made for the restoring Peace,—because Government Bills would yet bear some Price in the Alley, and Omnium and Scrip. would still sell at Market.
6. Many of the Dealers in Exports and Imports, and several of the Traders in the Colonies, are too often found to be assistant in promoting the Cry for every new War; and, when War is undertaken, in preventing any Overtures towards a Peace. You do not fathom the Depth of this Policy? you are not able to comprehend it. Alas! it is but two easily explained; and when explained, but too well proved from Experience. The general Interest of Trade, and the Interest of particular Traders, are very distinct Things; nay, are very often quite opposite to each other. The Interest of general Trade arises from general Industry; and, therefore can only be promoted by the Arts of Peace: But the Misfortune is, that during a Peace the Prices of Goods seldom fluctuate, and there are few or no Opportunities of getting suddenly rich. A War, on the contrary, unsettles all Things, and opens a wide Field for Speculation; therefore a lucky Hit, or the engrossing a Commodity, when there is but little at Market,—a rich Capture,—or a Smuggling, I should rather say a traiterous, Intercourse with the Enemy, sometimes by Bribes to Governors and Officers, and sometimes through other Channels;—or perhaps the Hopes of coming in for a Share in a lucrative Job, or a public Contract: These, and many such like notable Expedients are cherished by the Warmth of War, like Plants in a Hot bed; but they are chilled by the cold languid Circulation of peaceful Industry.
This being the Case, the warlike Zeal of these Men, and their Declamations against all reconciliatory Measures, are but too easily accounted for; and while the dulcis odor lucri is the governing Principle of Trade, what other Conduct are you to expect?
But what if the Men of landed Property, and the numerous Band of English Artificers and Manufacturers, who constitute, beyond all Doubt, the great Body of the Kingdom, and whose real Interests must be on the Side of Peace; what if they should not be so military in their Dispositions as these Gentlemen would wish they were? Why then all Arts must be used, and indefatigable Pains be taken to persuade them, that this particular War is calculated for their Benefit; and that the Conquest of such, or such a Place would infallibly redound both to the Advantage of the landed Interests, and the Improvement and Extension of Manufactures. “Should (for Example) the English once become the Masters of Canada, the Importation of Skins and Beavers, and the Manufacture of fine Hats, would extend prodigiously: Every Man might afford to wear a Beaver Hat if he pleased, and every Woman be decorated in the richest Furs; in return for which our coarse Woollens would find such a Vent throughout those immense Northern Regions as would make ample Satisfaction for all our Expences.” Well, Canada is taken, and is now all our own: But what is the Consequence after a Trial of some Years’ Possession? Let those declare who can, and as they were before so lavish in their Promises, let them at last prove their Assertions, by appealing to Fact and Experience. Alas! they cannot do it: Nay, so far from it, that Beaver, and Furs, and Hats are dearer than ever: And all the Woollens, which have been consumed in those Countries by the Native Inhabitants, do hardly amount to a greater Quantity than those very Soldiers and Sailors would have worn and consumed, who were lost in the taking, defending, and garrisoning of those Countries.
“However, if Canada did not answer our sanguine Expectations, sure we are, that the Sugar Countries would make Amends for all: And, therefore, if the important Islands of Guadaloupe and Martinico were to be subdued, then Sugars and Coffee, and Chocolate, and Indigo, and Cotton, &c. &c. would become as cheap as we could wish; and both the Country Gentleman and the Manufacturer would find their Account in such Conquests as these.” Well, Guadaloupe and Martinico are both taken, and many other Islands besides are added to our Empire, whose Produce is the very same with theirs. Yet, what Elegance of Life, or what Ingredient for Manufacture, is thereby become the cheaper? And which of all these Things can be purchased at a lower Rate, at present than before the War?—Not one can be named. On the contrary, the Man of landed Property can tell but too circumstantially, that Taxes are risen higher than ever,—that the Interest of Money is greater;—that every additional Load of National Debt is a new Mortgage on his exhausted and impoverished Estate;—and that, if he happens to be a Member of Parliament, he runs the Risque of being bought out of his Family Borough, by some upstart Gambler, Jobber, or Contractor.
TheEnglish Manufacturer, likewise, both sees and feels, that every foreign Material, of Use in his Trade is grown much dearer,—that all Hands are become extremely scarce,—their Wages prodigiously raised,—the Goods, of course, badly and scandalously manufactured,—and yet cannot be afforded at the same Price as heretofore,—that, therefore, the Sale of English Manufactures has greatly decreased in foreign Countries since the Commencement of War;—and what is worse than all, that our own Colonies, for whose Sakes the War was said to be undertaken, do buy Goods in Holland, in Italy, and Hamburgh, or any other Market where they can buy them cheapest, without regarding the Interest of the Mother-Country, when found to be repugnant to their own. All these Things, I say, the English Manufacturer both sees and feels: And is not this enough? Or must be carry his Complaisance still farther, and never be a Friend to Peace ’till it becomes the Interest of the Trader to befriend it likewise? Surely, surely, this is rather too much to be expected. In one Word, and to return to the Point from which we set out, the Interest of the Trader, and the Interest of the Kingdom, are two very distinct Things; because the one may, and often doth, get rich by that Course of Trade, which would bring Ruin and Desolation on the other.
7. The Land and Sea Officers are, of course, the invariable Advocates for War. Indeed it is their Trade, their Bread, and the sure Way to get Promotion; therefore no other Language can be expected from them: And yet, to do them Justice, of all the Adversaries of Peace, they are the fairest and most open in their Proceedings; they use no Art or Colouring, and as you know their Motive, you must allow for it accordingly. Nay, whether from a Principle of Honour natural to their Profession, or from what other Cause I know not; but so it is, that they very frankly discover the base and disingenuous Artifices of other Men. And the Author of these Sheets owes much of his Intelligence to several Gentlemen of this Profession, who were Eye and Ear-witnesses of the Facts related.
But after all, What have I been doing? and how can I Rope for Proselytes by this Kind of Writing?—It is true, in regard to the Points attempted to be proved, I have certainly proved that, “Neither Princes nor People can be Gainers by the most successful Wars:—Trade in particular, will make its Way to the Country where Goods are manufactured the best and cheapest:—But conquering Nations neither manufacture well nor cheap:—And consequently must sink in Trade in Proportion as they extend in Conquest,” These Things are now incontestibly clear, if any Thing ever was so. But, alas! Who will thank me for such Lessons as these? The seven Classes of Men just enumerated certainly will not; and as to the Mob, the blood thirsty Mob, no Arguments, and no Demonstrations whatever, can persuade them to withdraw their Veneration from their grim Idol, the God of Slaughter. On the contrary, to knock a Man on the Head is to take from him his All at once. This is a compendious Way, and this they understand. But to excite that Man (whom perhaps they have long called their Enemy) to greater Industry and Sobriety, to consider him as a Customer to them, and themselves as Customers to him, so that the richer both are, the better it may be for each other; and, in short, to promote a mutual Trade to mutual Benefit: This is a Kind of Reasoning, as unintelligible to their Comprehensions, as the Antipodes themselves.
Some few perhaps, a very few indeed, may be struck with the Force of these Truths, and yield their Minds to Conviction;—Possibly in a long Course of Time their Numbers may encrease;—and possibly, at last, the Tide may Turn;—so that our Posterity may regard the present Madness of going to War for the Sake of Trade, Riches, or Dominion, with the same Eye of Astonishment and Pity, that we do the Madness of our Forefathers in fighting under the Banner of the peaceful Cross to recover the Holy Land. This strange Phrenzy raged throughout all Orders and Degrees of Men for several Centuries; and was cured at last more by the dear-bought Experience of repeated Losses and continual Disappointments, than by any good Effects which cool Reason and Reflection could have upon the rational Faculties of Mankind. May the like dear-bought Experience prevail at last in the present Case!
[* ]T. Liv. lib. 1. Romanos homines, victores omnium circa populorum, opifices ac lapicidas pro bellatoribus factos. Thus reasoned the People of Rome, as soon as ever they began to be famous in the Character of Bellatores and Victores. And, as this Vanity is natural to Mankind, have not the Friends of Commerce too much Cause to fear that our Opifices and Lapicidas, now turned into Victores omnium circa Populorum, will reason after the same Manner? And yet the Romans were not so mad as to fight for Trade; they fought only for Conquest and Dominion, which may be acquired by fighting: But to fight for the Sake of procuring Trade, is a Species of Madness reserved only for Britons!
[* ]Indeed this Instinct, like all other Instincts and Passions, ought to be put under proper Regulations, otherwise it may do more Hurt than Good. But this Necessity of due Regulation is no more an Objection against the good Tendency of the Instinct itself, than the Rules of Temperance and Sobriety are Objections against Eating and Drinking in a moderate and reasonable Degree. The Instinct itself is certainly good; but may be misapplied:—And what may not? The political Regulations it should be under, will be mentioned elsewhere.
[* ]The Wealth of this Nation—that amazing Wealth, which has been so profusely squandered away in the two last general and devouring Wars, is principally owing to the wise Regulations of that able Minister, Sir Robert Walpole. Justice to his Character, and Gratitude to his Memory, demand this Tribute of Acknowledgement to be paid him when dead, which was shamefully denied him while alive. Sed opinionum commenta delet dies! And the Time is now come when his very Adversaries frankly confess, That his Plan of Commerce was manly and rational; that his Endeavours to prevent an infatuated People from quarrelling with their best Customers, were truly patriotical; and that his very Crimes were more owing to the Extremities to which he was driven by his implacable Enemies, than to any Malignity of his own. When he came into Administration, he found the English Book of Rates almost as bad as any in Europe; but he left it the very best. And were you to compare what he did for promoting general Trade, (and much more he would have done, had it not been for the Madness of some, and the Wickedness of others) were you but to compare what he actually did, with what has been done either before or since, in this, or any other Country, not forgetting the Sully’s, and Colberts, and the Fleurys of France, you would find that he shone as much above all other Ministers, as England hath exceeded the rest of the World in her late enormous Expences.
[* ]As a Confirmation of the above, it may be observed, that this very Country of Great-Britain is become much more capable of Defence against a foreign Invasion, than it used to be; and that the numberless Enclosures, new Canals, and artificial Navigations, which are now forming almost every Day, render it a Kind of Fortress from one End to the other. For while a few Regiments were posted in Villages, or behind Hedges, or to line the Banks of Rivers and Canals; and while a few Light Horse were employed in harassing both the Front and Rear of the Enemy, in falling on his Convoys, destroying his Magazines, and keeping him in a perpetual Alarm;—his progress would be so retarded, and his Forces so weakened, at the same Time, that our own would be encreasing in Strength and Numbers, as would oblige him to retire without Danger to us, but with great shame and Loss to himself. Had Harold used the same Precaution against the Duke of Normandy, instead of coming to a decisive Engagement with him on his landing, the latter must have returned ingloriously, perhaps with not a fourth Part of his Troops;—if indeed he could have returned at all, after he had penetrated a great Way into the Country far from the Resources of his Shipping, Provisions, and Supplies. An Invasion of this Country is certainly a possible Thing, notwithstanding all our Fleets, and all the Vigilance of their Commanders. But the Invader would not have the least Chance of conquering the Country, unless the headstrong Impatience of the English to come to Blows, should give him an Opportunity of bringing the Affair to one decisive Battle.
[* ]All the Speeches and all the Pamphlets poured forth against Standing Armies during the Administration of Sir Robert Walpole, were levelled at a Number of Troops so small that their highest Complement did not exceed 20,000 Men. Yet these were represented as very formidable to the Constitution by their Numbers; and more formidable still by that vast Accession of Power, which accrued to the Crown from the Disposal of such a Multitude of Places.—How are the Times altered since!