The Vampire of the Continent
The Campaign Against the Enemy of Peace
Era of Louis XIV
England now turned her attention to the third European Power, whose expansion and prosperity caused ever growing anxiety to the Chosen People: namely France. Under her Kings the latter country had developed into a homogeneous, centralised state. By means of a clever and unscrupulous foreign policy, in conjunction with the energy of an essentially progressive population, France had been able to profit immensely by the weakness and lack of unity of the German Empire. The German wars of religion, and especially the Thirty Years War, afforded France the most magnificent opportunities for expansion. By far the strongest European Power, France was also a maritime and colonial Power of the first rank. The great statesman Colbert succeeded, by his wise and far-sighted administration, in raising trade and industry to an unprecedented height of prosperity. A bold and skilful colonial policy was pursued in India, North and South America. In Canada and in the southern States of the Union, the travels of intrepid French explorers had opened up for their country immense regions, the possession of which made France the foremost nation in America, even as she was the foremost in the East Indies. Recognised as the leading European Power, France was in a fair way to becoming the leading World Power. Her strength, and consequently the validity of her claims, resided in the fact of her possessing this pre-eminent continental situation, as also in the facts of her political homogeneity and of the wonderful productivity of her inhabitants. During the second half of the seventeenth century, the people of England became aware of the existence of a dangerous rival; and an English historian tells us that the learned men at his side of the Channel at once enunciated the theory of Louis XIV being the enemy of European peace and consequently of England. For the moment, however, political circumstances in England did not permit of the latter carrying out her designs. She needed the enemy of peace to help her first of all in her war of robbery and destruction against Holland. Louis XIV, allied with England, waged war against the Dutch on land and sea. His chief desire was to destroy the Dutch trade; but when peace had been concluded between Holland and England, and Louis XIV found himself alone at war with the Dutch, the whole of the carrying trade, which the French had succeeded in wresting from the former, passed necessarily into the hands of neutral England. The war brought no advantage to French trade, and Louis recognised too late that he had labored solely for England. Not only had this labor been in vain, as far as France was concerned; but the maritime trade of the latter country was, as a consequence of the war, taken over to a large extent by Albions merchants.
Nature had destined France to be a maritime and commercial Power of the highest rank. She has three magnificent coasts. Her geographical position seemed to make her the heir of Spain and not only the heir, but also the conqueror, in which case she must have extended her dominions as far as the Pillars of Hercules. It was inevitable that France should, in the North, turn her eyes towards the Spanish Netherlands (i.e. Belgium), and, further still, towards Holland. In this way, the two countries at the expense of which England had risen to power, appeared destined to become simple dependencies of France. The War of the Spanish Succession arose about the question of the future relations between Paris and Madrid. Louis XIV claimed the Spanish throne for his grandson, after the death of its actual occupant. Had this claim been successful, France would not only have seen her continental power immensely increased by the possession of the entire seacoast from Dunkerque to Gibraltar, and from Gibraltar to Toulon but all the Spanish colonies would have been henceforth incorporated in the already large French colonial empire. Last, but not least, France would have taken over the whole of the trade with these new colonies. The last-mentioned point was precisely the most important of all. At that time, every colonial Power claimed for itself the right of a monopoly of trade with its colonies. Spain and Portugal still possessed, despite all that had been stolen from them by England, large and wealthy colonies. Had these been annexed to the French colonial empire, an essentially French character would have been given to the whole of the oversea colonial world.
The English art of inducing Continental nations to fight Albions battles manifested itself in its perfection during the Anglo-French wars at the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth century. The Netherlands, Prussia, and especially Austria, were stirred up against France, and nothing was left undone in order to involve the latter in ever fresh wars. Englands statesmen knew perfectly well, already at that epoch, that such wars weaken all the Continental Powers, that they increase their national debt, paralyse their trade and industry, and render them impotent on the seas. A few years ago an English Imperialist, Sir Harold Wyatt, wrote that naval wars are always a time of harvest for England. The latter had already learnt this lesson from her Dutch war. Admiral Freemantle and other English historians speak with pride of the era when the English fleet began to undertake the duties of policeman of the seas, and to impose the pax britannica on all by force. The right of policing the seas has since been considered a Divine right of the Chosen People. This right consists in stealing as many trading vessels, whether neutral or not, as possible, under some pious and lying pretext.
Especially did the English need Austria, the old adversary of France Austria, who had been ousted by France from her position as foremost European Power. In the seventeenth century Austria had a particularly heavy burden to bear: the wars with the Turks. These wars were very welcome to England, as long as they seemed to endanger Austrias existence. In the same way as England manifested a deeply sympathetic interest in the welfare of Christianity and human progress, so did she consider the advance of the Turks through the Balkan Peninsula and the plains of Hungary with the unruffled calm of the businessman, who knows in advance the profit he will reap. The late Alexander von Peez, one of those who knew best the motives underlying English mercantile policy, wrote: The Duke of Argyle tells us that in 1683, when the Turks attempted to take Vienna by storm, the sympathy of the Whigs was with the Turks. The trading classes, whose political representatives the Whigs were, wished and hoped to see Vienna captured by the Mussulmans. The reasons for such a pious hope were evident: a victory of the Turks would have produced incalculable effects in the whole of South-Eastern Europe. The triumph of the Crescent would have spelt the destruction, or at any rate the prolonged paralysis, of industry and commerce in all the Austrian lands. In itself this implied an immense advantage for the English business world; for the latter would then have been, in all those regions occupied by the Turks, without any competition, and it could consequently have fixed the prices to suit its convenience. The German wars of religion, and the persecution of the French Protestants, had taught the English that, under circumstances such as would necessarily have prevailed in the countries conquered by the Turks, the capitalists tend to emigrate and to seek refuge in England; whereby the capital invested in the latter naturally increases.
The Austrians were disobliging enough to offer a successful resistance. English diplomacy then set itself to induce the Emperor Leopold to stem himself the tide of his troops victory, and to send his triumphant armies away to the west of Europe. An English journal of that period expressed itself, according to Peez, as follows: Emperor Leopold, having placed the general interest of Europe (England?) above his own, has withdrawn a large part of his troops from Hungary and the Lower Danube, and transferred them to the Rhine; as a result, Belgrade and Nish have been re-taken by the Turks. When we consider these matters with calm impartiality, we are always tempted to ask ourselves: which was the most remarkable, the cleverness of England or the stupidity of the others? We believe the last of these two factors to have been the most important, and Austrians will probably share this opinion to-day. England did not desire to see Austria-Hungary develop into a Balkan Power; the former has always regarded every expansion of other nations especially when seacoasts, harbors, navigable streams, come into play as an insult to the Chosen People and a menace to European peace. Thus did Austria voluntarily sacrifice the fruits of her victory, in order to place herself in Englands service against France. Germany furnished, according to an ancient and hallowed custom, the battlefields. The only Power which reaped any profits was, of course, England. Had it not been for the Franco-Austrian quarrels, William of Orange would never have ascended the English throne. Very rightly has Peez said: Englands freedom was saved by long wars on the Rhine, by the devastation of the Palatinate, by the sacrificing of the fruits of Austrian victories in the South-East.
For our own part we always bear in mind the imprudent words of Disraeli: Englands influence has never been stronger than when her motives have not been suspected. Whenever her interests or, as we should prefer to say, her greed demanded that a Continental State should be destroyed or weakened, the London Cabinet always knew how to create complications for that State, and it then came to the support of the latters enemies by one means or another. The countries to whose help she came were, of course, very grateful, and Englands virtues were celebrated with enthusiasm. She was reputed a free country, which espoused, solely for moral reasons, the cause of religious liberty against tryanny and intolerance. Only much later did the Continental nations begin to see that the whole thing was purely and simply a matter of business, and extremely lucrative business, for Albion. And some nations have not understood it even now!
The War of the Spanish Succession likewise brought in a rich harvest for England. When the Peace of Utrecht was concluded in 1713, England was the only maritime Power in the world. The late well-known American historian, Admiral Mahan, describes Englands position at that period as follows: England ... meanwhile was building up a navy, strengthening, extending and protecting her commerce, seizing maritime positions, in a word, founding and rearing her sea power upon the ruins of that of her rivals, friend and foe alike. That this should have been the case, as it incontestably was, will perhaps .not surprise our readers. Mahans judgment is all the more interesting, as its author is an enthusiastic admirer of Great Britain and all her deeds. In fact, according to him, an unassailable British world-empire is something so supremely magnificent, that all means are justified in order to create it.
It was in the first years of the War of the Spanish Succession that England stole Gibraltar an event of far-reaching importance. This event did not mean a return to the Continental policy of the Plantagenets, but merely proved that England had risen to the rank of the first maritime Power it embodied in a concrete manner Englands claim to rule the seas. Henceforth her aim was to secure as many naval stations as possible; and this aim could not be realised otherwise than at the expense of the Continental nations. The latter, as far as they possessed coasts, were in future to be perpetually menaced by the guns of the English fleet. France had coveted Spain; but it was England who stole Gibraltar, which commands the entry into the Mediterranean. This act of robbery was the second of the decisive steps taken with a view to ensuring Englands supremacy in the last-named sea.
Another important event which took place during that period was a treaty of commerce, which England concluded with Portugal the so-called Methuen Treaty. England had wisely allied herself with weak Portugal; for the latter was a large, albeit defenceless, colonial Power. The Methuen Treaty was characteristic of English methods: on the one hand England conceded to Portugal a reduction of the English duties on Portuguese wines, etc.; on the other hand, she obtained for English goods the right of free entry into Portugal. An English historian has remarked concerning this treaty: Our alliance with Portugal and the Methuen Treaty between them gave England the monopoly of Portuguese trade. The final result was that Portugals industry was annihilated by English competition; Portugal was compelled to purchase everything for itself and its colonies from English producers! The exported products were shipped on English vessels, and thus did it come about that the entire carrying-trade to and from the Portuguese colonies fell into English hands. It is a historical fact that the Methuen Treaty completed the irreparable ruin of Portugal. Concluded in 1703, it has obliged Portugal to remain Englands obedient vassal down to the present day.
Englands statesmen have therefore every reason to speak in the most caressing and loving way of their dear friend and ally Portugal!
It is not less interesting to consider the Assiento Treaty between Spain and England which was incorporated in the Treaty of Utrecht. The Assiento Agreement enabled England to import every year a certain number of negroes into the Spanish colonies; it gave her the further right of sending every year a trading ship to Portobello. In this way did England open for herself a market in the Spanish possessions, thanks to which the products of English industry could be despatched thither in ever increasing quantities. The Assiento Treaty shattered the Spanish colonial trade monopoly as effectively as the Methuen Treaty shattered that of the Portuguese. The great plan of Louis XIV had been to unite France, Spain, and Portugal in one vast Continental and Colonial Empire. The two treaties above mentioned show us clearly how this plan had collapsed, and how immense was Englands profit especially by comparison with Englands sacrifices. The English losses in the naval war had been very small, and those on land had been smaller still; for the so-called English armies on the Continent, commanded by Marlborough, were not English at all, but German. England had sacrificed nothing but money, just as every business firm must advance the costs of foundation of a new enterprise. But such a firm knows beforehand that it will recoup those costs; so did England. She recouped them along with colossal interest, although her risks had been insignificant, seeing that the enemy could not possibly do her any great harm. The belligerents on the Continent, however, fought so desperately and so long for Englands business interests, that over and above the profits already indicated, England was able to evict France from her settlements in India, Canada, and the United States.
It was the same old story: the Continental nations obtained for England, at the cost of their own blood and riches, the control of the seas and the predominant position as colonial Power. The English statesmen understood this perfectly well. We are told that William Pitt the Elder once said that he would conquer America on the battlefields of Germany.
We have Conquered Canada in Germany
Frederic the Great and England
William Pitt was one of the greatest statesmen that England ever produced, he was a man whom people never tire of praising for his noble-heartedness. Around the middle of the eighteenth century he expressed himself as follows: France is chiefly ... to be dreaded by us in the light of a maritime and commercial power.... All that we gain on this system is fourfold to us by the loss which ensues to France.... Surrender (of St. Pierre and Miquelon) would enable her to recover her marine. This was, therefore, the point of view of that noble-hearted statesman, in whose opinion not nearly enough loss and humiliation had been inflicted on France. What England considered to be most particularly advantageous was the loss suffered by her rival. This was after the war of the Austrian Succession, during which England had employed Austria against France, according to her usual methods. Whilst France was busy with the war on land, England captured enormous booty on sea. Mahan tells us that the commerce of all three nations France, Holland, and England had suffered enormously; but, he continues, the balance of prizes in favor of Great Britain was estimated at £2,000,000.... France was forced to give up her conquests for want of a navy, and England saved her position by her sea power, though she had failed to use it to the best advantage. Mahans last statement is correct, but this was more than compensated for by the fact that England possessed obliging Continental Allies, who took upon themselves to weaken France. As usual it was Englands chief partner, i.e., Austria, who did the worst business; she lost Silesia, and a large part of Northern Italy (which she surrendered to the King of Sardinia); and she was compelled, as the result of these losses, to enter into her alliance with France.
While these sudden and unforeseen changes were taking place in the political system of Europe, English ships were chasing the French ones, and finally forced, by their unceasing attacks and vexations, the King of France to declare war.
This brings us to the part played by England in the Seven Years War. In the opinion of the English statesmen, the moment had come to complete the theft of the French Colonial Empire. Too much had also remained of the French trading fleet. Six months before the declaration of war an English fleet sailed into the Bay of Biscay, and did not leave it before capturing 300 French trading ships, worth $6,000,000. Subsequently England blockaded the French coasts, and captured all the ships belligerent or neutral bound for French ports. Not only did the English recognise that the time of the harvest had come, but, with the unerring instinct of the bandit, they determined to reap the maximum. Frederic the Great waged with true heroism a long and desperate war on the Continent, in which he earned for himself immortal fame; only with great difficulty did he manage to safeguard the frontiers of his country, whereas England filled, thanks to him, the pockets of her shopkeepers. Without the victories of the Prussian grenadiers there would be today no English world-trade: such is the verdict of Schmoller.
Frederic the Great was obliged to ally himself with England, and to accept English subsidies. He was fighting for the existence of Prussia, England as usual for her own purse; she knew that the subsidies were in the nature of an investment yielding immense profits. The result of the war was that England received Canada and Florida, besides the whole of the United States east of the Mississippi. Spain received from France the territory west of that river. In India, France renounced the right of exerting political influence. Englands aim had been realised. Her booty on sea and oversea was colossal; whereas the Continental nations were exhausted by the loss of blood and money, and the distribution of territory in Europe remained almost the same as it had been previously. It is interesting to notice what Frederic the Great thought about his ally, England, during the Seven Years War. It was clear to him, from the beginning, that England, if she wanted to do so, could render him very efficacious assistance all the more so as Frederic had recognised the great error committed by France in giving up the fundamental principle of the policy she had hitherto pursued: namely, the energetic carrying on of the maritime war with England. Under these circumstances it was much easier for the latter to come to Prussias help. Nothing, we read, was of greater importance to the King of Prussia at this time, than the news of the English preparations for a Continental war. History tells us what became of all these preparations.
Frederics verdict concerning the part played by England is well known, and he has himself put it on paper: When she concluded peace with France, England sacrificed Prussias interests in the most shameless manner. She then committed an even more disgraceful breach of faith. She offered Austria the re-conquest of Silesia, and in return for this humiliation inflicted on Prussia the Court of Vienna was to be allowed to resume its former friendly relations with England. As if all this treachery were not yet enough, English diplomacy was busy in St. Petersburg trying to stir up a feud between the King of Prussia and Czar Peter III. So much malignity and so much open hostility destroyed all the links once uniting Prussia and England. The alliance, which common interests had concluded, was replaced by bitter enmity and intense hatred. From the very beginning of the war Frederic had rightly desired that England should send a fleet into the Baltic and bombard the port of Cronstadt. He attached the greatest value to such a manoeuvre. But England ruled the ocean and all the other seas; she cared, consequently, nothing for the Baltic or the Sound. She attached little importance to the measures taken by the three Northern Powers, whose ships barred the entrance to the Baltic. The English Admirals had taken Cape Breton (at the entrance to the Gulf of St. Lawrence), and had occupied the island of Gorea (on the African coast). India offered them every opportunity for conquests; and they would have had none on the coasts of Denmark, Sweden, and Russia.
The great successes of the English in no wise diminished the weight of the burden borne by the King of Prussia, any more than they safeguarded his throne. He asked them in vain for a fleet to protect his Baltic ports, which were menaced alike by Russia and Sweden. The overweeningly arrogant English nation, which has hitherto been uniformly favored by luck, and which considers exclusively its own business interests, despised its allies as if they were mercenaries. England was perfectly indifferent to everything outside trade. Neither Parliament nor people paid the smallest attention either to the war in Germany or to Prussian interests. Everything that was not English was looked down on. The English were, in fact, such unreliable allies that they even stood in the way of the King during the negotiations, when common decency would have required them to support him. Frederic was here referring to his efforts to conclude an alliance with the Sublime Porte, in view of inducing Turkey to march against Austria. England obstructed these negotiations by all the means at her disposal, because she feared that an increase of Prussian influence in the Near East would entail an increase of Prussian trade.
Such was Frederics opinion of his English allies, whose help he had been forced to accept owing to the extremely unfavorable circumstances in which he was placed. We will ourselves complete the information imparted by the Prussian King: during the war, and especially towards its close, England endeavored to negotiate with all the enemies of Prussia not only with Austria and Russia, but also with France. She informed the Czar of her readiness to obtain from Prussia any territorial concessions which the former might wish for, and exactly at the same time she offered Austria Silesia; she also proposed to the French Government that the latter should, after the conclusion of peace, enter into possession of Wesel, Geldern, and the surrounding districts. We unfortunately lack space to discuss in detail the perfidious game then played by English statesmen. But the spectacle teaches us once more the time-honored truth, which is still ignored by some today, and which Frederic expressed by saying that the English care for nothing outside their own trading interests, and that they despise their allies as mercenaries. One can go still further, and say that England never really espouses the cause of another country, even when she is allied with it; such a country merely appears to her as useful for the moment, in so far as it serves Englands mercantile interests. These interests are not always to be found on the surface; but they are always at the bottom of every political combination entered into by the politicians in London. As soon as England, during the Seven Years War, had reaped her own abundant harvest and was certain that the conclusion of peace could not in any way diminish her profits, she at once sacrificed without hesitation the interests of Prussia, and broke the treaty she had signed with Frederic. And yet, without Prussia and Frederic, England would never have been able to drive France either from North America or India! Had France not been weakened by the war with Prussia, the former would have been able to play a very different part on the seas. But all that counted for nothing. Prussia was not to be permitted to extend her boundaries, nor to increase her strength; France had been sufficiently weakened; as for Austria and Russia, they could, by means of skilful wirepulling, be made to serve Great Britains interests usefully. Consequently did England desire the prompt conclusion of peace. No one was allowed to gain anything by such a peace, except England.
Pitt had spoken truly, when he said: We have won Canada in Germany. Although the Seven Years War, with its oversea expeditions and its subsidies, had cost England a good deal of money; it was very soon seen that one of its first results was to bring about an astonishing development of all the branches of England trade and industry. In other writings of his, Frederic the Great has noted down this rise of prosperity, not without surprise; he remarks that the national debt was enormous, but that, on the other hand, the general level of wealth was extraordinarily high. After the war it was all the easier to reduce progressively the national debt, as an ever-growing income of gigantic proportions was accruing, not only to individuals, but also to the state especially from India. But treasures and products of all sorts arrived also from all the other colonies. The British trading fleet ruled the seas; for the Royal Navy had conscientiously done its duty, and thousands of foreign trading ships the property of enemies, neutrals, friends, and allies alike (for England is always delightfully impartial in these matters) had disappeared. As usual, after a Continental war, industry, commerce (with the exception of a little coasting trade), and the entire force of production, were ruined. Under the influence of peace, the wants of the population asserted themselves once more; but its strength did not allow it to satisfy those wants itself, to build up a new trading fleet, to develop a new industry. Englands industry did the work. It must also be observed that the capital wealth of Great Britain had immeasurably increased, and had assumed ever more and more the aspect of an octopus sucking the life-blood of the other European nations. The more numerous the wars which those nations were compelled to wage for England, the more crushing did Englands superiority in this respect become. Ever less and less grew the competition capable of exerting an influence either on the selling or on the purchasing prices of English industry. Gold and raw materials flowed free of cost, and in an uninterrupted stream, into England; they either came from England oversea possessions, or from Spanish and Portuguese colonies, the exploitation of which England had reserved by treaty to herself. Thus was business doubly profitable. We must also remember that the great majority of freights were shipped on board England vessels; and that in this way also money flowed into English purses.
During the Continental wars England acquired an immense colonial empire; that is to say, she robbed a quantity of territories belonging to other people, after having reduced the European nations to impotence on sea by stirring them up one against another. The same policy enabled England to acquire practically the whole of the shipping trade, and to establish herself as mistress of the seas.
France had lost many vitally important things, both in the shape of territory and hi that of prestige. But the French only came to recognise the extent of their losses later on; and they soon forgot the lesson.
An interesting page in the history of the Seven Years War is that which deals with the attitude of England towards Spain. France had signed a convention with Spain, with a view to obtaining Spanish assistance. This assistance was to be rendered a year after the signing of the agreement; it was thus in the nature of a long-term bill. England seized the opportunity to attack Spain, and to pounce with her usual vulture-like rapacity on the Spanish colonies and on Spanish vessels; she likewise continued her piratical forays against the French coasts. It was especially the silver cargoes which excited the greed of the pious English heroes of the sea. English historians still regret that Pitts advice to attack Spain was not followed earlier. If it had been, many more glorious successes could have been obtained. Campbell wrote in his Lives of British Admirals the following exquisite passage: Spain is just the country which England can always fight with the best chances of acquiring fame and success. Her immense empire is weak in its center-point; the sources from which help can be obtained are far away; and the Power which commands the sea will be able to obtain without difficulty the wealth and the commerce of Spain. We are here told candidly that an attack on the weak Spanish empire offered every prospect of success, and of the acquisition of fame (!). For this reason was Spain attacked at every possible opportunity, and her still wealthy and immense empire perpetually plundered. The center-point of that empire was weak. Spains weakness resided in the fact that her sea power had been destroyed; she believed erroneously that local garrisons placed in the colonies would be able, by means of coast defences to maintain the cohesion of a great imperium. But between Spain and her colonies the British fleet had wedged itself in. In a similar manner was France separated from her oversea possessions. It was by means of robbery and piracy that England had developed into a world-Power at the expense of Europe.
The Protector of Neutral Countries the Liberator of Europe
Second half of the Eighteenth Century
France set herself, with remarkable energy, to rebuild her fleet, which had been annihilated in 1759. But the decision came too late, and the errors of past years could not be repaired. Matters stood somewhat more favorably in the case of Spain; but England had long since forgotten to fear the Spaniards at sea, and rightly so, for the latter have never shown themselves equal to the English on the waters.
In the third quarter of the 18th century, began the American War of Independence; both in France and Spain the hope of crushing the pirate empire dawned again. This hope was destined to end in disappointment; once more was the Continent vanquished by the Island. True, England was often in difficulties, on account of the immense extension of the seat of war; but, as far as her struggle with France and Spain was concerned, it was in reality decided as soon as it began. A very important factor of English success and English strength in all these wars, was the skill with which Englands statesmen and admirals invariably treated the Continent as a whole. We have more than once drawn attention to the fact that not only Englands enemies, but also neutral countries, and even Englands friends, had to suffer during a maritime war. Under the pretext of damaging the enemy, all trade was forbidden alike with hostile and with neutral ports; and the English captured impartially every ship that sailed the seas under foreign flag. This policy, consistently followed out, had the result of gradually eliminating the flags of all neutral and hostile countries, and of replacing them by the English flag. With special rigor had England maintained a claim first advanced by her during the Dutch wars: namely, that of seizing on neutral ships cargoes destined for the enemy. During the war between England, on the one hand, and France and Spain, on the other, neutral shipping in the North and the Baltic Seas had suffered greatly; for England did not wish France and Spain to obtain corn and wood from the countries bordering the Baltic. Thereupon France and Spain allied themselves with Russia, Sweden, and Denmark; and the armed neutrality of the Baltic Powers was proclaimed under Russias leadership. Here at last we see an effort made by a part of the Continent to offer joint resistance to the monstrous claims and the insatiable greed of England, and to demand just and considerate treatment. The following concessions were required from Great Britain: immunity of the enemys cargoes carried under neutral flag; arms and munitions alone to be contraband, and not foodstuffs nor wood for building purposes provided they be not destined for the Government of a belligerent nation; neutral ships to have the right of going to the unblockaded ports of a belligerent country, and of carrying on trade along the latters coasts; lastly, blockades to be only recognised when a sufficient naval force effectively bars the entrance to the blockaded port.
We need scarcely point out how closely the demands made by the neutral Powers in 1780 resemble those formulated in 1914-15. Not only does this hold good of the definition of the word contraband; but also of the demand that a harbor or a coast shall be considered as legally blockaded only when the blockade is effective, i.e. when a sufficient fleet is present to enforce it. This claim was raised, in 1780, against one of the worst of Englands traditional methods of warfare. It had always been the custom of the English simply to declare a coast to be blockaded even when no English ships were in the neighborhood. This was the so-called paper-blockade, or, as the French called it, le blocus anglais: a most convenient invention! Such a method released the English fleet from all the duties incumbent on the blockading party; it permitted English trade to reap free of cost all the advantages of the blockade, e. g. the right of seizure of all vessels, neutral or hostile, etc.; it rendered the Continent wholly dependent on English ships for its sea communications. Concerning this question, and also concerning the other, to the effect that the neutral flag may cover cargo destined for the enemy or exported by the latter, England had been negotiating with the leading Continental Powers during more than a hundred years. England had often admitted the demands in question, but only in times of peace. When herself engaged in war, she despised such international agreements as much then as now.
One after another nearly all the Continental Powers, including Prussia, joined the Armed Neutrality League. When Holland decided to follow suit, England declared war on her, and the insatiable vulture flung itself on to the Dutch colonies. Mahan writes: The principal effect ... of the armed neutrality upon the war was to add the colonies and commerce of Holland to the prey of English cruisers.... The possessions of Holland fell everywhere, except when saved by the French....
At first, and as long as the American War of Independence lasted, England showed herself disposed to agree to the proposals of the League of Armed Neutrality. But she refused to allow the Baltic Powers to participate in the peace negotiations, and subsequently declared: the demands of the League, that is to say in substance the conditions of the Peace of Utrecht, hold good for the contracting parties exclusively! In this way were the very Powers excluded, who had been the first to protest against the unjust treatment of neutral nations. It was also proclaimed in the House of Commons that the doctrine concerning the effective blockade the limitation of the term contraband to war supplies, and the right of the enemys cargoes to sail under neutral flag, were not considered by the British Government as in any way binding the latter for the future. Thus had the League of Armed Neutrality contributed to the development of a propaganda in favor of the recognition of certain principles of international maritime law; but it had achieved no practical result whatever. Ten years later the League itself was dissolved. England then succeeded in stirring up the Czaritza against revolutionary France. An agreement was drawn up, according to the terms of which a Russian fleet was assigned the task of preventing all communication between France and the neutral Scandinavian countries.
All these are events, the importance of which may appear to the reader, by comparison with the epoch-making occurrences of that period, to be insufficient to warrant their recounting in detail here. But none the less are they important. It was certainly of more than passing importance that the attempt made by all the neutral Continental Powers to ally themselves against the English pirate, and to obtain in this way recognition of the right of neutrals that this attempt should have been vain. Today the neutral countries are astonished and indignant at the matter-of-course manner in which Great Britain tramples all international law and custom under foot. They cannot understand that the only excuse alleged by her should be: it is unfortunately necessary that the neutrals be compelled to suffer, seeing that Germany, the chief enemy of Great Britain, must be crushed. About 130 years separate us from the period of the Armed Neutrality of 1780. Many international conferences have been held during these thirteen decades; many agreements have been made concerning the laws of maritime warfare, and especially concerning the right of neutral shipping in time of war. An immense quantity of books have been written on the subject; and in no other connection have we heard so much about the growing solidarity of civilised people being promoted by the increased means of communication. The nineteenth century, and the beginning of the twentieth, were periods in which international phrases were held in high honor. The European States and not only the weaker ones believed that a lot of printed paper was sufficient to suppress the Englishmans thieving instincts. They thought that it was enough to talk about rights, and duties, and solidarity; and that the civilised British nation had accepted the principle of the existence of a supreme international law, equally operative in times of peace and war. The disappointment was hence all the greater but those who shared it got what they deserved. How could any reasonable person believe that methods systematically and successfully adopted during centuries that the fundamental instincts of the English nation and the underlying principles of English policy: that all this would suddenly be abandoned, annihilated, simply because the Continental States hoped that it would be so, and talked about the possibility of it happening? In England people spoke a lot, and eloquently, about humanity and civilisation. But for every English statesman and admiral it was self-evident that, in war, everything would remain exactly as it always had been. It would be worth while to follow attentively the attitude adopted by England, throughout the centuries, not only towards the above-mentioned questions of maritime law, but towards a great many others, and to present the results of that inquiry to the astonished eyes of our readers. The latter would then perceive that, under altered forms, English aims and methods have remained invariably the same since the sixteenth century up till the present day. Maritime war is destined by Providence to serve the ends of the Chosen People; such wars are for them times of abundant harvest; and it is the duty of the English people, of its statesmen and admirals, to see that the Will of Providence is duly carried out.
The harvests reaped by England as a result of her pirate wars had always been substantial. But the greatest harvest of all, the reaping of which should be decisive in the influence economic and political exerted by it on Britains future evolution, was still to come.
In 1789 the French Revolution broke violently out, on the occasion of the summoning of the States-General in Paris. Two years later, Louis XVI and his family were brought back to the capital as prisoners, their attempted flight having been intercepted. Hereupon the Continental Powers allied themselves against France with the avowed intention of employing every means in view of enabling the King of France to consolidate freely, and without let or hindrance, the foundations of the monarchy. On behalf of Great Britain, William Pitt the Younger declared that he declined to intervene in any way in the internal affairs of another State.
The war against France commenced, and luck favored the French arms; after a short time the French troops entered the Austrian Netherlands, i.e. Belgium. At the same time the National Convention issued a decree, declaring the Scheldt to be henceforth open, in conformity with the law of nature. In order to enforce this decree without delay, and in such a manner as to remove all misunderstandings, a French fleet entered the Scheldt and blockaded Antwerp, already besieged by the army. This happened in November, 1792. Shortly afterwards the British Government declared that it would never see with indifference a French occupation of the Netherlands; and that it could not admit Frances claim to act as general arbitress of the rights and liberties of Europe. On January 21st 1793 Louis XVI was guillotined; and a little later the French Ambassador in London received from the British Government a brief and very impolite notice, to the effect that he must leave London within a week. This was but the prelude to war between France and England.
From the outset it was perfectly evident that the British Government would seek to wage this war in the name of one of those high-sounding principles, by means of which England has invariably sought to cloak her real designs. Nothing could have been more welcome to English Ministers than the death of Louis XVI. Full of noble indignation, with heaving breast and flashing eyes, the old pirate of the seas rose to arms. France, it was said, must receive her punishment for the murder of the King and for the atrocities of the Revolution; in view of the terrible crimes committed it was wholly impossible for England to remain disinterested, as Pitt had promised. England sacrifices all egotistical considerations, and makes the cause of monarchical Europe her own. To-day we are better able to judge the utterances of English statesmen and of the English press; and we can imagine the superb virtuosity, the wonderful skill, with which the interests of Europe and the atrocities of the Revolution were exploited, in order to keep the Continental nations in the dark as to the real motives underlying Englands intervention in the war. As a matter of fact, these motives were to be sought in the occupation of Belgium by French troops, and in the opening of the Scheldt. It was not the execution of the King, but the conquest of Belgium, which drove England into war. The English historian Seeley goes still deeper into the question, when he says: The fight for the acquisition of new markets for English goods at the expense of the growing French industry, was at once keener and more popular than the fight against the Revolution. Alexander von Peez and Paul Dehn, the authors of that excellent book Englands Vorherrschaft aus der Zeit der Continental-sperre, comment as follows on Seeleys words: Commercial jealousy was reinforced by political fear. France might be strengthened by the Revolution, even as England had been by her own revolutions in 1649 and 1689; and the former might, in consequence, become a very dangerous rival. The more prominent was the part played in the world by France, and the more did England consider herself injured and menaced. It was not the liberties of Europe that English statesmen regarded as threatened, but rather Englands commercial and industrial monopoly. Every word of this statement is true.
England now proceeded to set all Europe in motion, in order to drive the French out of Belgium and to prevent the Belgian and Dutch sea-coast from falling into the hands of a rival naval Power. British gold flowed once more in an uninterrupted stream into Europe, as it always did whenever there was a probability of doing a really successful business deal on a large scale. Revolutionary France had indeed done everything that was necessary to provide England with the most admirable pretexts; for had it not abolished the Christian religion? Can we not imagine how the Englishmans pious heart must have swollen within him? For the sole purpose of protecting religion and morals England was only too happy to be able to give money! Nothing characterises better the great comedy the background of which Europe would seem not even yet to have perceived than the literature of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Era. The noble-heartedness of the free and pious Englishman is sung to every tune; the leitmotif is invariably furnished by the noble and generous nation which, albeit in safety on its island, endeavors with motherly solicitude to diminish the sufferings of the Continental peoples, and which, animated by the marvellous spirit of self-sacrifice, fights indefatigably the good fight for religion, freedom, and order.
It is necessary, now, to turn our attention for a short while to Belgium, and especially to the question of the Scheldt. The independence of the Northern Netherlands had been recognised by the Treaty of Westphalia (1648); the latter thus gave legal sanction to Hollands total separation from the powerless German Empire a separation that had existed de facto for a very long time. The Southern Netherlands, i.e. Belgium, remained Spanish property until 1713, when they were handed over by the Treaty of Utrecht to Austria. This state of affairs continued to exist until the outbreak of the wars between France and the European Coalition.
The Treaty of Westphalia compelled Spain to give her consent to the closing of the Scheldt. The Dutch States-General had declared that, for Holland, this measure was one of vital importance; for if Antwerp were to become a great and prosperous port, Amsterdam and Rotterdam must necessarily suffer by it to a greater extent than Holland, with her small resources, could bear. Consequently was the Scheldt closed, Antwerps trade was ruined, and a terrible blow was dealt at Belgiums prosperity. In reality, the closing of the Scheldt was due not so much to Dutch as to English influence. English statesmen had known for centuries what the result would be if Antwerp were to fall into the hands of a great Power; and that Englands trade would certainly derive no advantage to say the least from the existence of a prosperous port at the other side of the Channel, at the mouth of the Scheldt, close to the Rhine, the Meuse, and the Thames. A more convenient maritime position, and better means of communication with an immense commercial hinterland, than those possessed by Antwerp, cannot be imagined; in those days, when railroads did not exist, the situation was even superior to what it is to-day. The closing of the Scheldt was equivalent, under these circumstances, to the drying-up of an unusually rich source of trade and wealth, and even sea-power. The restless mind of the Emperor Joseph II understood this, and he decided to demand the re-opening of the river. Holland, backed up by England, resisted the demand; negotiations ensued, which lasted several years. Mahan remarks that Again, in 1784, she (England) was forced to look with anxiety less on account of Austria than of France upon this raising of the question of the Scheldt. There was little cause to fear Austria becoming a great sea power now, when she had held the Netherlands three-fourths of a century without becoming such; but there was good reason to dread that the movements in progress might result in increasing her rivals sea power and influence perhaps even her territory in the Low Countries. Mahan neglects to tell us how Englands jealousy of Austria manifested itself at that time just as it had done on previous occasions. At the beginning of the 18th century, Austria had founded an East Indian trading company in Ostend. As Alexander von Peez tells us, the enterprise flourished, and thereby excited naturally the envy and suspicion of the English. England created difficulties for the Emperor on the Rhine, and at the same time despatched envoys to the Great Mogul in India, who represented the Emperor as the principal enemy of Mohammedanism. For this purpose, certain highly-colored descriptions of the battles of Peterwardein and Belgrade were given. Finally in 1727 the company was dissolved, as a consequence of English threats. We would remark that certainly no other European Power could have been maltreated and exploited by England, as Austria was; but then the German Empire of that time was not a Great Power!
Emperor Joseph II soon gave up insisting on the opening of the Scheldt, for other things occupied his restless mind. France paid him an indemnity; and her statesmen drew the conclusion that it was henceforth permissible for them to develop relations of intimacy with Belgium, and to sign a military and naval convention with the latter. This policy of France was directed against England; it showed that the French statesmen understood the real motives by which Great Britain was actuated. It is possible that they were also of the opinion that, in the event of the Belgian question becoming acute, it would be of the greatest importance for France if Belgium were not on Englands side. This was in 1785; and during the following years English diplomacy did everything it could to win over Holland.
Such was, then, the position of matters when, in 1793, the attack of the European Powers on France resulted in the conquest of Belgium by French troops, and in the opening of the Scheldt.
At first sight it would seem as if there were a certain similarity between the attitude of England at that date, and her ultimatum to Germany in 1914. There is certainly some resemblance between the two attitudes, but there is also a fundamental difference namely, that Belgium, in 1793, was Austrian territory; and Austria was at war with France. France sent her troops into Belgium in order to conquer the latter; and she sent her fleet to open up a port of incomparable commercial value. The French Government intended, from the beginning, to keep Belgium; in fact, the possession of the whole of the Netherlands had been for centuries one of the chief objects of the Kings of France and such an object could not possibly be attained except by conquest. Austria had, in conjunction with the other Continental Powers, attacked France, and the latter was in her right in invading Austrian territory. The French Government subsequently declared that its troops would evacuate Belgium; but it is doubtful whether it would have permitted the Scheldt to be closed again. The occupation of Belgium, however, together with the opening up of the river, afforded England a sufficient reason to declare war on France. Only a short time before this, the British Government had manifested the firm intention of not intervening in the Continental war; its desire had merely been to inflict, in accordance with its traditions, as much harm as possible on the shipping trade of belligerents and neutrals; and if the occasion had presented itself, it would have gladly seized a colony or a naval station belonging to one of the nations at war. English statesmen had judged a policy of watchful waiting to be the best especially as the British fleet was at that time not quite equal to its task. But in those days of wooden ships, and in view of Englands colossal resources, the defects of the navy could very soon be repaired.
In 1914 the German Empire was attacked by Russia and France. The German Government requested Belgium, an independent but neutralised country, to allow the German armies to march through Belgian territory; it gave, further, every necessary guarantee to the effect that no territorial acquisitions were intended; it pointed out that military necessities alone dictated its request, and it promised compensation for all damage done. It likewise undertook to pay cash for all the provisions needed by its troops. Great Britain at once agitated the spectre of Belgian neutrality, and declared that the entry of German troops into Belgium must entail a declaration of war by the London Cabinet. A short time afterwards documents were found in Brussels, which showed that England, France, and Belgium had entered into a military agreement in 1906 with a view to preparing a joint attack on Germany. Since that date, consequently, a neutral Belgium had de facto no longer existed. Belgium and this is the chief thing to be noted had become a British basis of operations in one of the strategically most important regions of Europe. The British Government had already in advance ascribed to Belgium, in the carefully planned-out future war against Germany, a part similar to that played by Portugal during the Napoleonic wars.
Some years ago Lord Curzon wrote that the necessities of Indian defence urgently demanded the occupation, by British troops, of all the countries bordering the Indian frontier, as well as the conquest of Arabia and the transformation of the Persian Gulf into an English lake; for all such countries, and also the Persian Gulf, were in reality nothing but the natural fortifications of India. In the same way does England, as a matter of principle, regard all those European countries whose coasts are washed by the North Sea, the Channel, and the Atlantic, as fortifications of the British Isles and as forming also Englands commercial hinterland.
In 1793, when the last great struggle between France and England began, Spain and the Netherlands were both considered, in London, to be British fortifications; Hanover being in British hands, it was also possible to consider Germany in the same light, whilst, in the North, Russia formed the background to the Scandinavian States. When we consider the various political and military combinations between 1793 and 1816 and when we abandon the historical legends invented concerning them, we shall see that France was the champion of the true interests of the Continent. England, and her following of European States, represented solely British insular interests, whereas Russia changed sides like a weathercock. This judgment in nowise diminishes the value of the German War of Liberation, but it certainly does call in question the traditional opinion to the effect that it was England who liberated Europe. The question as to whether England, as a matter of fact, contributed anything to that liberation, remains an open one, even if it be admitted that she played an important part in causing the downfall of Napoleon.
With joyful and untiring energy did the English statesmen of that epoch labor to prevent the flames of war being extinguished on the continent. As far as Englands interests were concerned, Europe could never be laid waste sufficiently. Englands participation in the military operations was the traditional one. From the beginning, she considered the war as a maritime one (as far as she herself was concerned), poured oil on the flames in Europe, and paid subsidies which were, indeed, more often promised than actually paid. Of course it is the Germans who have always spoken with the greatest admiration and gratitude of the free nations superb struggle for the liberty of Europe against the Corsican oppressor!
Admiral Mahan, whom we have often quoted, who is a passionate admirer of Great Britain, and who only finds fault with his pets when they have not been unscrupulous enough to suit him Admiral Mahan writes as follows about the part played by England in the Napoleonic wars: For these reasons great operations on land, or a conspicuous share in the continental campaigns became, if not absolutely impossible to Great Britain, at least clearly unadvisable. It was economically wiser, for the purposes of the coalitions, that she should be controlling the sea, supporting the commerce of the world, making money and managing the finances, while other states, whose industries were exposed to the blast of war and who had not the same commercial aptitudes, did the fighting on land. The same author says in another place: The thriving condition of the manufactures and commerce of England, protected from the storm of war ravaging the Continent and of such vital importance to the general welfare of Europe, made it inexpedient to withdraw her people from the ranks of labor, at a time when the working classes of other nations were being drained for the armies. Mahan, the admirer of England, has here unconsciously defined the part which British statesmen so artfully ascribed to the Continent: no English workman should be allowed to fight, for this would damage British industry. The Continental peoples were there to do the fighting! Mahan tells us that, on the Continent, industry had been rendered impossible by the war; and he forgets that the latter was systematically encouraged by England. From an economic point of view, an experience repeatedly made by England in former wars was confirmed: namely, that the money invested in the shape of subsidies was recouped with interest, and that .the constantly increasing capital in the country paved the way for the flooding of the foreign markets with the cheap products of British industry. The last-mentioned phenomenon, again, permitted in later years of the humble attempts made elsewhere to develop a national industry being nipped in the bud. The Continent grew ever poorer, and England ever richer. With characteristic English hypocrisy could Pitt say, on the occasion of the reception of some expelled French priests: The country that has welcomed those priests, is a country which Heaven has blessed. In the midst of the universal distress which has befallen other nations, Providence has permitted Great Britain to cover herself with glory and honor. Peace reigns in her palaces, her barns are full. All parts of the globe pay tribute to her industry, all the seas are marked with the sign of her victories. The same statesman said in 1801: If we compare this year of war with former years of peace, we shall, in the produce of our revenue, and in the extent of our commerce, behold a spectacle at once paradoxical, inexplicable and astonishing; we shall see, that, in spite of the alarm and agitation which has often prevailed in the course of this arduous contest ... we have increased our external and internal commerce to a higher pitch than ever it was before; and we may look to the present as the proudest year that has ever yet occurred for this country.
Let us return to the year 1793. Trembling with indignation at the, sight of the murder of the French sovereigns, and of the introduction of the religion of Reason; deeply incensed by the proclamation of the Republic, and fearing for the liberties of Europe, England flung herself on the trade and industry of France. The latter was to be isolated from the rest of the world. The British Government declared that it was necessary to starve the French nation, by preventing the importation of corn. When we consider that France in those days had a much smaller population than she has to-day, whereas her soil was just as fruitful then as now, it is difficult to suppose that the starvation plan was a serious one. Some sagacious Germans recognised afterwards, when it was too late, the truth of the matter: the starvation of France was a pretext, the object of which was to hold up to Englands continental allies a common aim to be realised, and to hide the real purpose of the English blockade from their view. The purpose in question was none other than the destruction of the entire industry of the Continent, for England succeeded in persuading the majority of European States to bind themselves over not to sell anything to France. In this way did they suppress their own export trade to that country; and the consequence was, that especially the German industry lost a valuable, nay indispensable, market. German industry was, in future, compelled to work at such a cost, that the cheaper English goods were able to flood the German market. We can observe here the time-honored English policy, which wages war only when large business profits are to be drawn from it. The more heterogeneous and complicated European political life grew, the more cunningly did England proceed. At the beginning of the last century she succeeded, by the simple means of a few high-sounding words, in inducing the whole of Europe to destroy the latters own industry and the foundations of its own economic existence.
Thus began that colossal commercial war, which, for England, was the end-purpose of the military and naval operations. The French Republic replied to the English blockade by the exclusion of all English products, and by raising the French tariff. These protective measures proved very favorable to the industrial development of the country, and further efforts were made to stimulate such development by means of other economic reprisals. France applied to the neutral States for help in preventing the smuggling of English goods, all of which were confiscated. We need hardly say that the English did not remain inactive; and that they did not hesitate to denounce the absolutely justifiable retaliatory measures adopted by France, as an unheard-of crime against humanity. The English fleets exercised with greater rigor than ever their self-assumed duties as policemen of the sea; that is to say, they stole as many French and neutral ships as they could get hold of. They further compelled all ships coming from oversea countries to call first at an English port; this measure later on during the era of the Continental blockade was rendered worse by the imposition of heavy port duties on such vessels.
Englands continental allies were chained hand and foot. On the one hand they had, as we already pointed out, bound themselves down at Englands behest to destroy their own trade; on the other hand, she completed, in the most friendly manner, the ruin of their shipping. As far as they possessed any maritime trade, they likewise suffered from the French reprisals, directed against England. The neutral countries suffered scarcely less; they came at last, in 1800, to recognise that they had no possible interest in sacrificing their commerce and industry merely to please England. The Northern States concluded a new alliance on the ruins of the old Neutrality League of 1780. The question once more arose of the liberty of goods under neutral flag, and of the right of search claimed by England. The neutral countries were of opinion that the right of search, in the case of trading vessels accompanied by warships, should be negatived on principle. Several brutal attacks on Swedish and Prussian trading ships, and another on a Swedish warship, formed the last straw that broke the camels back. Under Russias leadership a new Armed Neutrality League was constituted in 1800. Its requests were both just and moderate: liberty of transport of all goods (outside contraband) under neutral flag; contraband to include henceforth munitions of war only; prohibition of the so-called right of search in the case of trading vessels accompanied by warships; liberty of travel for neutral ships, which are to be allowed to sail freely to the ports of belligerent nations provided no effective blockade exists.
These just claims roused the English to intense fury. The Government declared them to be not only hostile, but preposterous, disgraceful, insulting to English supremacy. England would under no circumstances sacrifice her rights to the Jacobin principles now fashionable, and which had been derived from France.
The Neutrality League of 1800 insisted on its demands. Prussia, Denmark, and Sweden rallied around Russia, as leader of the neutral nations; energetic efforts were made to keep the Baltic and North Seas open for neutral shipping, and to close the Baltic to British shipping, as long as England should not agree to the just demands of the neutral Powers. We must bear in mind that the trade with Northern and Eastern Europe was of immense importance for England at that time; the countries bordering the Baltic constituted a rich market for British industrial products, and it was from them that England obtained very large quantities of corn and timber. Already at that time was Great Britain dependent to a large extent on the importation of foodstuffs for the feeding of her population.
The neutral Powers began their preparations for closing the entrance to the German rivers flowing into the North Sea and the Baltic. Hereupon England required Denmark to abandon the Neutrality League, and the claims put forward by the latter. Denmark was further required to open her ports without delay. The Danish Government refused to accept these demands; the result was the bombardment of Copenhagen by English warships, and an attack on the Danish fleet. Almost immediately before these events took place, the Emperor Paul, the leading spirit of the whole Neutrality movement, was assassinated in St. Petersburg. The history of this celebrated murder has admittedly never been cleared up; but when we consider it in the light of contemporary political happenings, we may take it for granted that the assassins of the Czar, and also the immediate instigators of the crime, were in the pay of the British Government. The crime in question must be laid to the charge of the pious and free English people of the same nation which, in its virtuous indignation at the murder of Louis XVI, plunged Europe into a series of wars lasting 22 years. The assassination of the Czar and the bombardment of Copenhagen took place at such admirably calculated intervals, that the former could be made known in Copenhagen at the very moment when the British guns were opening their fire on the city. Denmark gave in, the Armed Neutrality of 1800 was at an end, and Russia concluded a separate agreement with Great Britain. The latter maintained all her claims with regard to neutral shipping intact.
Once more had the Continent been outwitted by England and precisely that part of the Continent, which, had its various component elements kept together, would have constituted a by no means insignificant factor in politics. The League had come to grief owing to the double-faced attitude adopted by Russia an attitude which the Empire of the Czars kept up during the whole of the Napoleonic wars. We cannot now discuss the numerous other aspects of the political situation at that time. But when we consider this situation impartially, we must come to the conclusion that an active co-operation of the nations forming the Armed Neutrality League with one another, together with a rapprochement between those nations and France, would have produced the happiest results for Europe. And not only that. The break-up of the Armed Neutrality League of 1800 marks another step in the development of Englands sea power to the detriment of Europe. Once more the determination of the mistress of the sea to consider and to treat Europe exclusively as a land offering facilities for commercial enterprise, manifested itself. English statesmen spared neither trouble nor money in stirring up new wars on the Continent, and in endeavoring to induce the European nations to adopt such economic measures as might weaken them commercially and industrially. As a reward for their services, England coolly and unscrupulously destroyed the maritime trade of her friends whether the latter were allies, or simply neutral.
Englands struggle against the Armed Neutrality was in every way an offensive one. This is not only true of the bombardment of Copenhagen, or of the naval expedition to the Baltic Sea; but it holds good of the whole policy which led up to the acts in question. It is characteristic of the immense increase of Englands strength, that she should have felt herself capable of pursuing such a policy. For it was one thing to send a fleet against Holland, or even against Spain; and quite another to despatch a fleet through the North Sea into the Baltic, which was closed in by mighty naval Powers. The energy of desperation with which England, by means of her fleets and the murderers suborned by her, fought the Northern Powers with beak and claw, proves how highly she rated the danger threatening her from that quarter.