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Estimates of the Strength of France and Russia.
serve. To maintain the public spirit of the navy and the army, the fruits of their conquests and blood should be secured to the nation; and they will long continue the bulwarks of our empire, the terror of our enemies, and the · admiration of the world.
4. To embarrass our finances, by manœuvres, senatus-consultus, and by making their dependents and allies insult and quarrel with the British government direct, or with the governments of our settlements abroad; and when we have been at the expence of equipping fleets, and recruiting armies, the consul will interpose, and as an indemnification to us, he will desire his vassal to make an apology.
It is easy to render abortive these sorts of speculation: as one of the principal members in the great political society of the civilized world, we hate a right to insist, that every project, measure, or transaction, which in any wise tends to affect the public peace of that society in general, or the interests of any one of its members in particular, no matter where such originates, shall be communicated to us, and fairly explained to our satisfaction, before any attempt be made to carry it into execution. To conceal transactions that concern public affairs, can only proceed from inimical designs; we must therefore consider every demarche, or movement, whether military or diplomatic, that wears an appearance, be it ever so slight, of equivocation, as acts of open hostility. We should then neither remonstrate nor receive explanation; the British public is the only power to whom the government ought to appeal. Were a bold and manly system of measures adopted, the -supplies raised upon the produce of the property of the empire, and all such pestiferous taxes which vex the public, and sap their morals, abolished, the people would feel a lively interest in the independence of their country. And if we could assure our seamen and soldiers that they shall not again conquer is vaint, the nation would soon proudly soar above the feeble efforts of foreign machinations, our finances would casily be maintained, and the ridicule
produced the mutiny in our navy. It can scarcely be expected, that an able seaman, who has for years fought the battles of his king and country, on the scanty pay of a man of war, could with pleasure, or even with indifference, see vagabonds of all descriptions, receiving thirty, forty, or fifty guineas to come and mess amongst valiant honest tars. Such inconsequent measures are highly gratifying to our enemies; and what is of inf nitely greater importance, they tend to justify disobedience and insurrection in the opinion of the public!
To see British officers, grown grey in the service of their country, obliged to leave it, and to languish out the remainder of their days in exile abroad, for trifling debts, contracted perhaps for a necessary subsistence, which their scanty pay refused, is extremely distressing to a liberal British mind!
+ Czar Peter I. said, that to fight for glory was in individuals a recommendable vittue, although they might have no determined object in view; " but we sovereigns," said he, "are not at liberty to gratify our own personal vanities, our arms are made of the flesh and blood of our subjects, they must never be wielded in vain."
Estimates of the Strength of France and Russia,
and contempt which our enemies are busied in heaping upon the British government, would recoil with redoubled force upon their own heads. We should then prove to the world, that having often conquered our foes, merely, as it were, to raise them up, we can, when provoked, subdue them again, and maintain our conquests.
With respect to the public hostile measures of France and Russia, to exclude the political influence of Great Britain from the continent of Europe and Africa, is their first declared object; to interrupt her commercial intercourse with the rest of the world, and deprive us of our foreign possessions, is their second.
To effectuate the first, we are told, that when the consulate has sufficiently disarmed Great Britain, and fully garrisoned the posts and settlements of the republic and her dependents, at home and abroad, we shall then see stationed in hostile array, and in the following order, viz.
Between North Bergen and Cuxhaven, including the sound and the Categate, 30 sail of Russian men of war, from 60 to 120 guns; 20 sail of Swedish ditto, from 40 to 74 guns; 24 sail of Danish ditto, from 60 to 80 guns; 400 sail of Russian gallies and gun vessels; 200 sail of Swedish ditto; 50 sail of Danish gallies and floating batteriest,
The passages of the Belts, and into the Baltic, to Gottenburg and the Elbe, will be defended by double and triple lines of naval horn-works, sunk upon flat bottomed vessels, that may be moved from place to place, and taken up at pleasuret.
* To undermine the British government, the consulate employ the same arms which the French encyclopedists were blamed for having used against the Christian religion that is, under the pretext of exposing the principles, doctrine, and personal prejudices of the late ministry to ridicule, they hold up the public measures of the present to universal contempt. Bishop Talleyrand knows, that as the primitive purity of the Christian church would have confounded all the sophistical subtility of himself and colleagues, so an energetic government in Great Britain, could yet make the Jacobin heroes of the republic, hide their polluted heads amongst the rubbish from whence they rose.
↑ Russia has upwards of 700 gallies, gun-boats, and other small armed vessels, and Sweden has the easy means of increasing her flotillas to a much greater number than we have stated. Denmark had remaining, after the battle of Copenhagen, 21 sail of the line in a state for service, and the Prince Royal intends to raise the fleet to 50 sail of substantial well equipped line of battle ships.
‡ These naval horn-works are made of large timber beams from 16 to 30 feet long, shod with iron, and put together like what the military call chevaux de frise. They are then fixed upon fat vessels, and sunk so as to be hidden 6, 10, or 12 feet under the surface of the water. In the Belts and other passages, where there is neither tide, current, nor motion in the water, they are easily laid down and taken up. The Swedes were the first who made use of these works; they will now very soon surround Cronstadt, cover Copenhagen, and all the other important harbours in the Baltic. To lay triple lines across the navigable channels of the Great Belt, will require about 200 such vessels. The Danish government keeps in constant pay 6000 sailors employed in the royal VOL. VI. No. 22. 2 M
Estimates of the Strength of France and Russia.
This naval chain may be attended by any number of military, as circumstances may point out*.
Between the Ems and Cadiz (as we have before stated) the consulate itself informs us, that the government of the republic intends to raise and .distribute a navy of 160 sail of line of battle ships, with from 1500 to 2000 armed light vessels.
The principal stations of the light flotillas of this navy will be at St. Valery, and in the Scheldt; where their depôts will be rendered invulnerable to any attack that can be made from the sea. So that should the consulate be allowed time to raise and equip the quota assigned for the republic, the coast of continental Europe will be covered with 234 sail of line of battle ships, and between 2150 and 2650 gallies, gun vessels, and other armed craft†, attended, we will suppose, by 100,000 Russians, 50,000 Swedes and Danes, and 150,000 French, Dutch, Swiss, and other dependents. To this force, the coasts of Great Britain and Ireland will of course be exposed. The enemy therefore calculates, that he will be able to confine all our naval and military force to Europe, while he carries into effect his long projected plan of depriving us of our settlements abroad.
dock-yards; 18,000 with 300,000 tons of shipping are employed in the merchant service; 20,000 able seamen may, at any time, be drawn from amongst the pilots and fishermen along the coasts of Denmark and Norway.
The Swedish government keeps in pay, 7500 sailors employed in the king's service, and 15,000 sailors are enrolled for the navy, besides 20,000 seamen that may be likewise drawn from amongst the pilots and fishermen on the immence coast of Sweden and Finland.
The Danish army in Denmark and Holstein, amounts to 24,000 regular troops, and 12,000 regular militia. In Norway to 27,000 men, regular troops and militia. The fencibles are so organized, that they may be raised to any number, at a few days notice. The Swedish army amounts to 14,000 regular infantry, 2000 regular cavalry, 25,000 militia infantry, and 12,000 national cavalry.
To pretend that we have destroyed the navies of our enemies, is to pretend, that a man whose coat is torn in a fray, must remain in rags, although by the scuffle, he gets off with ten bales of broad cloth! The destruction of a few ships, or of an enemy's squa dron, makes a pompous gazette for the day; but the acquisition of Brasil, Surinam, or St. Domingo (or had we only enabled that last colony to change masters) would have been, to Great Britain more solid and glorious than the annihilation of all the ships that ever were built in France, Holland, and Spain. Ships are only the wooden, and petishable parts of a navy; Brasil and St. Domingo are naval souls, and whoever possess them, will have a preponderate body in the commercial and political world. It is easy to conceive that we do not here mean to say, that Portugal will ever make a member in the political world: that deservedly forlorn government can only be considered as a contemptible member of the body of the French republic.
The Chief Consul knows, that in subsidizing foreign powers, courting alliances on the continent, and maintaining Gibraltar, the British government could have no other national object in view, than merely to check, or occupy the forces of France at home, while we might employ ours abroad. He has seen in the archives of Versailles, that,
Estima.es of the Strength of France and Russia.
Although this line extends from Bergen to Cadiz, to cover our coasts, and bid defiance to its menaces, and oblige those hostile squadrons to remain inactive in their own ports, on the east coast of the island, we have only to
aided by this policy, Great Britain has, during the last century, had it frequently in her' power to consolidate her political rank and maritime empire, independent of any continental connexion whatever. That we may never have such an opportunity again, (lest we should make a better use of it) Buonaparte has not only removed the checks we used to set on the frontiers of France, but he has placed them in more formidable attitudes around our own. We say in more formidable attitudes, because, since the peace of Utrecht, the continental powers have never looked upon alliances with Great Britain as beneficial to themselves. We have offered them neither advantage for co-operating with us, nor security when they assumed gestures of enmity to France. Their connexions with the consulate are built upon another basis, and better cemented. For the alliance of Russia and the United States, France holds up empires, kingdoms, provinces, and sugar-islands; to the lesser powers she shews her sabre, and the wrecks of England; and to all powers she offers an opportunity to retaliate real and presumed injuries.
Although it be an unpleasant reflection, it is a positive fact, that every government, and all the nations of Europe, Asia, and America believe, that they have injuries to retaliate upon Great Britain. It is pitiful to hear proclaimed in the British parliament, and echoed through the nation, that England is considered on the continent as the saviour of Europe! What country have we saved? Is not Europe completely subdued, and under the yoke of France and Russia? When or where have we either protracted, or even modified the ruin of any kingdom, state, or nation? Have we not, for this last century, been one of the principal instruments in breaking down the barriers of the liberties of Europe, and in paving the way to the aggrandizement of the two powers, of whose dictatorial ambition we now complain? In 1670 we made a monstrous alliance with Louis XIV. against Holland: prior to the peace of Utrecht, we entered into a disgraceful conspiracy with that same monarch, against both Holland, Austria, and Spain, or against the guardians of the liberties of Europe. When it was again possible to have snatched the Spanish monarchy from the dominion of France, we acceded to an unnatural league with the Duke of Orleans, and destroyed the Spanish navy, to secure the subjugation of that kingdom. We destroyed the navies of Holland, ruined her commerce, divided the Dutch republic into factions, and then left her a prey to her rapa. cious enemies. We will not, for shame, speak of the House of Orange! In the north, from 1714, to the infamous peace of Nystad, our political connexions and negociations at Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Petersburgh, and the base part we then acted in the scandalous partition of the Swedish monarchy, do certainly not entitle us to expect much gratitude from the secondary powers in that quarter. After an impartial review of the foregoing transactions, it might be useful to cast a glance at the following, and then to sum up the whole together, viz. Our conduct towards Turkey, from 1769 to 1774; our negociations at Petersburgh, from 1779 to 1782; the part we took in that fabric of treachery, and diplomatic ignorance which shackled the House of Austria, and sapped the indepce of Germany and Italy, we mean, the German convention of 1785. The part we took for Turkey, for Sweden, and for Poland in 1788-89 and 1790, with our ne. gotiations and compromise at Petersburgh in 1791. This period of our political and diplomatic history analyzed and fairly explained, would show whether or not, continental Europe may be expected to consider Great Britain as her saviour. Have we, during the revolution, acquired a right to that distinguished appellation? Doth the state of
Estimates of the Strength of France and Russia.
makeYarmouth-roads a safe naval station, and another between Flamboroughhead and the Coquet island, and one north of Fifeness, if it could be done at Buchanness so much the better. But such stations must be made at the head-lands, or where there is sea-room; and it is absolutely necessary to have one north of the Edinburgh frith. Forty sail of British line of battle ships, distributed from the downs to Buchanness, with safe anchorages at proper stations, would most completely block in all the navies and flotillas that ever could be mustered between Boulogne and Bergen-bay*.
security in which we have lately left the kingdoms of Portugal, Naples, Sicily, Sardinis, the order and island of Malta, Switzerland, &c. and the salvation we worked out for Denmark on the 2d of April last, entitle us to rely upon the good will of these states? Or is it the pleasure we seem to take, in seeing our allies, the Turks, butcher one another under our standard in Egypt, that should recommend us as mediators between Europe and Buonaparte? Of all the traits of English policy that are on record, we recollect none less honourable to the nation than our conduct in Egypt, since the peace! Our predecessor in the government of that country, although we do not know that an honest, generous, or noble sentiment ever issued from his soul, would most assuredly not have suffered those who had once submitted to his sabre, to cut one another's throats, in his presence; at least not except he had some end to serve, or vengeance to glut by their blood. Nor is it likely, that in our situation, he would see the massacres of St. Domingo with indifference! The miraculous conquest of Egypt, snatched the reputation of the British army from the brink of oblivion: should laurels so dearly won, be poi soned by the sight of civil carnage; be suffered to fade by a sense of generous shame, and left to wither in the breath of noble indignation?
When a government sports with the feelings of the nation, when the nation believe its blood is wasted, and when public measures make honesty blush, these are ominous presages of a falling state!
To abuse the nation, either with groundless fears, or with fallacious hopes, is unfair at any time; but at this momentous crisis, on the very eve of a warfare, which must either end in our destruction, or in the consolidation of a real British empire, to lull the public into illusive security, is more than unfair. The nation should be candidly told, in what relationship we stand with other powers, and the strength of our enemies should be publicly explained; if then, it be found that we have occasion for extraordinary exertions, the government will soon be enabled to realize the necessary means. We know to a certainty, that the world is inimical to Great Britain; and we likewise know, that if efficacious measures are not timely adopted, to destroy the hopes of the domineering powers, or if some unforeseen event doth not intervene, and confound their plans, we shall have to combat the enmity of Europe and America, in open bostility, before it be long.
• But if we do not prepare for our ships, other shelter than the mouths of the Thames, and the Humber, Leith-roads, and Cromarty-bay, were the navies of England stationed in the North sea, the country may be invaded on any point, to which the enemy chuses to direct his course.
A noble admiral, whose name will stand high on the annals of his country, as long as a sense of merit, or a spark of gratitude warms a Briton's breast, can corroborate this assertion, for in 1796 he had the mortification to know, that a fleet of 17 sail of enemies men of war came out of the Texel in the month of February, and paraded the north sea'