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and desired a friend to send it down to me immediately on its appearance, which he neglected to do. On this account, I did not see it till a few days ago. I have read it through twice, with great care, and many parts three or four times over. From this, you will conclude that I must have been much interested; and I assure you that I deem myself also in a high degree instructed. It would be a most pleasing employment to me to dwell, in this letter, upon those points in which I agree with you, and to acknowledge my obligations for the clearer views you have given of truths which I before perceived, though not with that distinctness in which they now stand before my eyes. But I could wish this letter to be of some use to you; and that end is more likely to be attained if I advert to those points in which I think you are mistaken. These are chiefly such as though very material in themselves, are not at all so to the main object you have in view, viz. that of proving that the military power of France may by us be successfully resisted, and even overthrown. In the first place, then, I think that there are great errors in the survey of the comparative strength of the two empires, with which you begin your book, and on which the first 160 pages are chiefly employed. You seem to wish to frighten the people into exertion; and in your ardour to attain your object, that of rousing our countrymen by any means, I think you have caught far too eagerly at every circumstance with respect to revenue, navy, etc., that appears to make for the French. This I think was unnecessary. The people are convinced that the power of France is dangerous, and that it is our duty to resist it to the utmost. I think you might have commenced from this acknowledged fact; and, at all events, I cannot help saying, that the first 100 pages or so of your book, contrasted with the brilliant prospects towards the conclusion, have impressed me with a notion that you have written too much under the influence of feelings similar to those of a poet or novelist, who deepens the
distress in the earlier part of his work, in order that the happy catastrophe which he has prepared for his hero and heroine may be more keenly relished. Your object is to conduct us to Elysium, and, lest we should not be able to enjoy that pure air and purpureal sunshine, you have taken a peep at Tartarus on the road. Now I am of your mind, that we ought not to make peace with France, on any account, till she is humiliated, and her power brought within reasonable bounds. It is our duty. and our interest to be at war with her; but I do not think with you, that a state of peace would give to France that superiority which you seem so clearly to foresee. In estimating the resources of the two empires, as to revenue, you appear to make little or no allowance for what I deem of prime and paramount importance, the characters of the two nations, and of the two governments. Was there ever an instance, since the world began, of the peaceful arts thriving under a despotism so oppressive as that of France is and must continue to be, and among a people so unsettled, so depraved, and so undisciplined. in civil arts and habits as the French nation must now be? It is difficult to come at the real revenue of the French empire; but it appears to me certain, absolutely certain, that it must diminish rapidly every year. The armies have hitherto been maintained chiefly from the contributions raised upon the conquered countries, and from the plunder which the soldiers have been able to find. But that harvest is over. Austria, and particularly Hungary, may have yet something to supply; but the French Ruler will scarcely quarrel with them for a few years at least. But from Denmark, and Sweden, and Russia, there is not much to be gained. In the mean while, wherever his iron yoke is fixed, the spirits of the people are broken; and it is in vain to attempt to extort money which they do not possess, and cannot procure. Their bodies he may command, but their bodies he cannot move without the inspiration of wealth, somewhere or other; by wealth I mean superfluous produce, some
thing arising from the labour of the inhabitants of countries beyond what is necessary to their support. What will avail him the command of the whole population of the Continent, unless there be a security for capital somewhere existing, so that the mechanic arts and inventions may thereby be applied in such a manner as that an overplus may arise from the labour of the country which shall find its way into the pocket of the State for the purpose of supporting its military and civil establishments? Now, when I look at the condition of our country, and compare it with that of France, and reflect upon the length of the time, and the infinite combination of favourable circumstances which have been necessary to produce the laws, the regulations, the customs, the moral character, and the physical enginery of all sorts, through means, and by aid of which, labour is carried on in this happy land; and when I think of the wealth and population (concentrated too in so small a space) which we must have at command for military purposes, I confess I have not much dread, looking either at war or peace, of any power which France, with respect to us, is likely to attain for years, I may say for generations. Whatever may be the form of a government, its spirit, at least, must be mild and free before agriculture, trade, commerce, and manufactures can thrive under it; and if these do not prosper in a State, it may extend its empire to right and to left, and it will only carry poverty and desolation along with it, without being itself permanently enriched. You seem to take for granted, that because the French revenue amounts to so much at present it must continue to keep up to that height. This, I conceive impossible, unless the spirit of the government alters, which is not likely for many years. How comes it that we are enabled to keep, by sea and land, so many men in arms? Not by our foreign commerce, but by our domestic ingenuity, by our home labour, which, with the aid of capital and the mechanic arts and establishments, has enabled a few to produce so much
as will maintain themselves, and the hundreds of thousands of their countrymen whom they support in arms. If our foreign trade were utterly destroyed, I am told, that not more than one-sixth of our trade would perish. The spirit of Buonaparte's government is, and must continue to be, like that of the first conquerors of the New World who went raving about for gold-gold! and for whose rapacious appetites the slow but mighty and sure returns of any other produce could have no charms. I cannot but think that generations must pass away before France, or any of the countries under its thraldom, can attain those habits, and that character, and those establishments which must be attained before it can wield its population in a manner that will ensure our overthrow. This (if we conduct the war upon principles of common sense) seems to me impossible, while we continue at war; and should a peace take place (which, however, I passionately deprecate), France will long be compelled to pay tribute to us, on account of our being so far before her in the race of genuine practical philosophy and true liberty. I mean that the mind of this country is so far before that of France, and that that mind has empowered the hands of the country to raise so much national wealth, that France must condescend to accept from us what she will be unable herself to produce. Is it likely that any of our manufacturing capitalists, in case of a peace, would trust themselves to an arbitrary government like that of France, which, without a moment's warning, might go to war with us and seize their persons and their property; nay, if they should be so foolish as to trust themselves to its discretion, would be base enough to pick a quarrel with us for the very purpose of a pretext to strip them of all they possessed? Or is it likely, if the native French manufacturers and traders were capable of rivalling us in point of skill, that any Frenchman would venture upon that ostentatious display of wealth which a large cotton-mill, for instance, requires, when he knows that by so doing he would only draw
upon himself a glance of the greedy eye of government, soon to be followed by a squeeze from its rapacious hand? But I have dwelt too long upon this. The sum of what I think, by conversation, I could convince you of is, that your comparative estimate is erroneous, and materially so, inasmuch as it makes no allowance for the increasing superiority which a State, supposed to be independent and equitable in its dealings to its subjects, must have over an oppressive government; and none for the time which is necessary to give prosperity to peaceful arts, even if the government should improve. Our country has a mighty and daily growing forest of this sort of wealth; whereas, in France, the trees are not yet put into the ground. For my own part, I do not think it possible that France, with all her command of territory and coast, can outstrip us in naval power, unless she could previously, by her land power, cut us off from timber and naval stores, necessary for the building and equipment of our fleet. In that intellectual superiority which, as I have mentioned, we possess over her, we should find means to build as many ships as she could build, and also could procure sailors to man them. The same energy would furnish means for maintaining the men; and if they could be fed and maintained, they would surely be produced. Why then am I for war with France ? Ist. Because I think our naval superiority may be more cheaply maintained, and more easily, by war than by peace; and because I think, that if the war were conducted upon those principles of martial policy which you so admirably and nobly enforce, united with (or rather bottomed upon) those notions of justice and right, and that knowledge of and reverence for the moral sentiments of mankind, which, in my Tract, I attempted to portray and illustrate, the tide of military success would immediately turn in our favour; and we should find no more difficulty in reducing the French power than Gustavus Adolphus did in reducing that of the German Empire in his day.