Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. VI. - The True Interest and Political Maxims, of the Republic of Holland
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
CHAP. VI. - Pieter de la Court, The True Interest and Political Maxims, of the Republic of Holland 
The True Interest and Political Maxims of the Republic of Holland (London: John Campbell, Esq, 1746).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Some considerations particularly relating to alliances between Holland and inferior powers.
All alliances for conquest detrimental to Holland,HAVING premised in the foregoing chapter, that the interest of Holland consists in peace, because our fisheries, trade, navigation, and manufactures will increase more by peace than war, and that these are the pillars on which our state is founded; it follows, that all covenants and alliances founded upon conquest and glory are prejudicial to Holland, since by such alliances the peace is wilfully broken, and wars made to the ruin or decay of the said pillars of our country.
As also for advancing trade, if made with republicks.2dly. It also naturally follows, that no alliances, except such as are grounded upon mutual fear and defence against a much superior power, can be profitable, for Holland, because by this means either the peace will be more lasting, or the war that may happen will have a better and speedier end.
3ly. If we consider the states of Europe in their present condition, ’tis true, all republicks being founded on peace and trade, have the same interest with Holland, to preserve and maintain peace on every side: but they by continual endeavours to draw our trade, and its dependencies to themselves, always obstruct one principal design, which is the encrease of traffick. And considering also that they are of so little power to assist Holland, when in distress, against a greater force, ’tis wholly unadviseable to enter into an alliance with any of them for common defence. For as to the defence by land, relating to the United Provinces themselves, we have found how fruitless a thing, and burdensome a load the union for our common defence has always been (I will not say as it was made, but as that union was formerly managed by our captains-general and stadtholders) to the province of Holland.
The union of Utrecht has been misused, to the prejudice of Holland.And tho’ during our free commonwealth government, all those abuses of the said union which have been so prejudicial to us, and arose merely from fear of offending the late heads of our republick, ought to have ceased; yet by long continuance they have so much tended to the advantage of our separate allies, and their deputies of the generality, and taken so deep a root, that our republick of Holland and West-Friesland can hardly compass or obtain any reformation, or any new and profitable orders for their own particular benefit, tho’ with never so much right demanded, without being subject to the undue oppositions and thwartings of the said allies of our union; and their deputies with whom we are forced to be always contending. And of this I could give the reader infinite examples, particularly by means of Zealand and Friesland, from that faithful and excellent history of L. V.See L. V. Aitzma’s hist. on those respective years, and especially the considerations of the publick prayers, and Holland’s deduction concerning the seclusion, &c.Aitzma, wherein the debates about the seclusion of the prince of Orange in 1654, and about the order made anno 1663, concerning the publick prayers for the superior and inferior magistracy, as also for the foresaid allies, and their deputies in the generality, and council of state, are fully related.
And if we should make alliances with the remote Germanic republicks, we should find them both chargeable and useless; for being weaker than we, they are the sooner like to be attacked, and then we by their means should be engaged in a war contrary to our own interest.
Other republicks, whether German or Italian, would be much less serviceable to us.And as for the republicks of Italy, it is well known, that in our wars by land, they neither could, nor would give us the least assistance, which was formerly made evident by our alliance with Venice. And except in the Mediterranean, they can give us less help by sea, being not at all interested therein. And for the Hans republicks, it is certain that they are not only very weak and unfit to undertake a war for our sakes against those who are too strong for us; but on the contrary, they always love to see us disturbed and obstructed at sea, that in the mean time they may trade the more: so that we can be assisted by no republicks in a war against a stronger power. And because by covenanting with them for mutual assistance, and common defence, we may very easily fall into a war; we must never enter into any other agreement with them, save of friendship and traffick; and in the mean while stand upon our guard, as if we were to be assisted by no republicks in the whole world in our necessity. For tho’ indeed those republican allies and friends are good, yet woe to us if we stand in need of them, and ten times more woe to us if we wilfully and deliberately order matters so, as at all times, and for ever to stand in need of our neighbours and allies.
What alliances are to be held with lesser monarchs.As for such monarchs and princes, who by alliances might have some communication with us; I conceive that their true interest carries them, as well as their favourites and courtiers, to hate all manner of republicks, especially such as are lately established, and are their neighbours, because they are a perpetual reproof to them, and bring the ablest and most discerning of their subjects to dislike monarchical government. And therefore, if we will enter into an alliance with any of the neighbouring kings and princes, or are already in league with them, we must stand much more on our guard, than if we were to make an alliance with a free republick, or had done so:Who hating republicks, especially ours, we must always be upon our guard. so that it is hardly advisable to enter into any alliance with kings and princes. Yet seeing things may so happen, that some such alliance might for some short time be advantageous to us; ’tis necessary to speak of such kings and princes distinctly. And first, the emperor and king of Poland are not considerable to us, and the crown of Denmark so weak and unfit for war, that as we have nothing to fear from thence, so we cannot hope to be assisted by them in our troubles. Sweden and Brandenburgh are so deficient, that we shall never cause them to take arms against our enemies, unless we will furnish them with great sums by way of advance: and, as I said before, all such alliances are unsteady and wavering, as we have lately learned by Brandenburgh; and France by Sweden; who after they had received the money advanced, applied it purely to their own affairs, without any regard to their contracts. Besides, they are both of so small power, that if they should become our enemies, we might ruin them by prolonging the war, and always give them the law by sea.
We may more safely make alliances with weaker, than with stronger.So that they would soon perceive, that they could gain nothing by us, that their traffick would be spoiled, the war mischievous to both sides, and consequently peace and friendship would be best for both. But in all cases, having made alliances with republicks or monarchs that are weaker than ourselves, which, by alteration of conjunctures of time and interests, would certainly tend to ruin the state, or our native country; sufficient reasons may always be given to those weaker allies, why, with a saving to honour, a nation may depart from them, and neither may nor will either ruin themselves or their subjects by such leagues; and thereby make good the proverb, * An ill oath displeaseth God: and he that deceives a deceiver, merits a chair in heaven. And indeed all alliances made and confirmed by oath between sovereign powers, ought to have this tacit condition, to continue so long as the interest of the nation will admit. So that if nevertheless a prince would punctually observe such alliances to the ruin of his country, he is no more to be esteemed than a silly child that knows nothing of the world, whilst he ought to govern the land as a guardian to his orphans; for according to the rule in law, †Orphans must suffer no loss. On the other side, the ally in such a case neither may, nor ought to perform his part, if it be against his first oath and duty as a ruler and guardian, and to the ruin of his subjects who are his orphans; and therefore it must be understood, that he will not maintain it.It oppugns not the honour and oath of a regent, but agrees well with it. A regent or guardian ought not to be ignorant of this; but if he be so, ’tis then evident that he ought to be governed himself, and be put under wardship. Woe be to those countries, cities, and orphans that must nevertheless be governed by such rulers and guardians!
[† ]Pupillus pati posse non intelligitur. Dig. l. 40. tit. 17. Reg. Jur. 110.