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In this Difpofition to reciprocal Invafion a Caufe of Difpute never could be wanting. The Forests and Defarts of America are without Land-marks, and therefore cannot be particularly specified in Stipulations: The Appellations of thofe wide-extended Regions have in every Mouth a different Meaning, and are understood on either Side as Inclination happens to contract or extend them. Who has yet pretended to define how much of America is included in Brazil, Mexico, or Peru? It is almost as eafy to divide the Atlantic Ocean by a Line, as clearly to afcertain the Limits of those uncultivated, uninhabitable, unmeasured Regions.
It is likewife to be confidered, that Contracts concerning Boundaries are often left vague and indefinite without Neceffity, by the Defire of each Party, to interpret the Ambiguity to its own Advantage when a fit Opportunity fhall be found. forming Stipulations, the Commiffaries are often ignorant, and often negligent; they are fometimes weary with Debate, and contract a tedious Difcuffion into general Terms, or refer it to a former Treaty, which was never understood. The weaker Part is always afraid of requiring Explanations, and the ftronger always has an Intereft in leaving the Queftion undecided: Thus it will happen, without great Caution on either Side, that after long Treaties folemnly ratified, the Rights that had been difputed are ftill equally open to Controversy.
In America, it may easily be supposed, that there are Tracts of Land not yet claimed by either Party, and therefore mentioned in no Treaties, which yet one or the other may be afterwards inclined to occupy; but to these vacant and unfettled Countries each Nation may pretend, as each conceives itself intitled to all that is not expressly granted to the other.
Here then is a perpetual Ground of Contest: Every Enlargement of the Poffeffions of either will be confidered
fidered as fomething taken from the other, and each will endeavour to regain what had never been claimed, but that the other occupied it.
Thus obfcure in its Original is the American Conteft. It is difficult to find the firft Invader, or to tell where Invafion properly begins; but I fuppofe it is not to be doubted, that after the last War, when the French had made Peace with fuch apparent Superiority, they naturally began to treat us with less Respect in diftant Parts of the World, and to confider us as a People from whom they had nothing to fear, and who could no longer prefume to contravene their Defigns, or to check their Progress.
The Power of doing wrong with Impunity seldom waits long for the Will; and it is reasonable to believe, that in America the French would avow their Purpose of aggrandizing themselves with at leaft as little Reserve as in Europe. We may therefore readily believe, that they were unquiet Neighbours, and had no great Regard to Right, which they believed us no longer able to enforce.
That in forming a Line of Forts behind our Co. lonies, if in no other Part of their Attempt, they had acted against the general Intention, if not against the literal Terms of Treaties, can scarcely be denied; for it never can be fuppofed that we intended to be inclosed between the Sea and the French Garrifons, or preclude ourselves from extending our Plantations backwards to any Length that our Convenience should require.
With Dominion is conferred every Thing that can fecure Dominion. He that has the Coaft, has likewise the Sea to a certain Distance; he that poffeffes a Fortress, has the Right of prohibiting another Fortress to be built within the Command of its Cannon. When therefore we planted the Coast of North-America, we fuppofed the Poffeffion of the inland Region granted to an indefinite Extent, and
every Nation that fettled in that Part of the World, feems, by the Permiffion of every other Nation, to have made the fame Suppofition in its own Favour.
Here then, perhaps, it will be fafeft to fix the Juftice of our Caufe; here we are apparently and indifputably injured, and this Injury may, according to the Practice of Nations, be juftly refented. Whether we have not in Return made fome Encroachments upon them, must be left doubtful, till our Practices on the Ohio fhall be ftated and vindicated. There are no two Nations confining on each other, between whom a War may not always be kindled with plaufible Pretences on either Part, as there is always paffing between them a Reciprocation of Injuries, and Fluctuation of Encroachments.
From the Conclufion of the last Peace perpetual Complaints of the Supplantations and Invasions of the French have been fent to Europe from our Colonies, and tranfmitted to our Minifters at Paris, where good Words were fometimes given us, and the Practices of the American Commanders were fometimes difowned, but no Redress was ever obtained, nor is it probable that any Prohibition was fent to America. We were ftill amufed with fuch doubtful Promises as thofe who are afraid of War are ready to interpret in their own Favour, and the French pufhed forward their Line of Fortreffes, and feemed to refolve that before our Complaints were finally dismissed, all Remedy fhould be hopeless.
We likewife endeavoured at the fame Time to form a Barrier against the Canadians by fending a Colony to New Scotland, a cold uncomfortable Tract of Ground, of which we had long the nominal Poffeffion before we really began to occupy it. Το this those were invited whom the Ceflation of War deprived of Employment, and made burthenfome to their Country; and Settlers were allured thither by many fallacious Defcriptions of fertile Vallics and
clear Skies. What Effects thefe Pictures of American Happiness had upon my Countrymen I was never informed, but I fuppofe very few fought Provifion in those frozen Regions, whom Guilt or Poverty did not drive from their native Country. About the Boundaries of this new Colony there were fome Disputes, but as there was nothing yet worth a Conteft, the Power of the French was not much exerted on that Side; fome Disturbance was however given, and fome Skirmishes enfued. But perhaps being peopled chiefly with Soldiers, who would rather live by Plunder than by Agriculture, and who confider War as their beft Trade, New-Scotland would be more obftinately defended than fome Settlements of far greater Value; and the French are too well informed of their own Intereft, to provoke Hoftility for no Advantage, or to select that Country for Invafion, where they muft hazard much, and can win little. They therefore preffed on fouthward behind our ancient and wealthy Settlements, and built Fort after Fort at fuch Diftances that they might conve→ niently relieve one another, invade our Colonies with fudden Incurfions, and retire to Places of Safety before our People could unite to oppose them.
This Defign of the French has been long formed, and long known, both in America and Europe, and might at firft have been eafily repreffed, had Force been used instead of Expoftulation. When the Englifh attempted a Settlement upon the Ifland of St. Lucia, the French, whether juftly or not, confidering it as neutral and forbidden to be occupied by either Nation, immediately landed upon it, and deftroyed the Houses, wafted the Plantations, and drove or carried away the Inhabitants. This was done in the Time of Peace, when mutual Profeffions of Friendship were daily exchanged by the two Courts, and was not confidered as any Violation of Treaties
Treaties, nor was any more than a very soft Remonftrance made on our Part.
The French therefore taught us how to act; but an Hanoverian Quarrel with the House of Auftria for fome Time induced us to court, at any Expence, the Alliance of a Nation whofe very Situation makes them our Enemies. We fuffered them to deftroy our Settlements, and to advance their own, which we had an equal Right to attack. The Time however came at iaft, when we ventured to quarrel with Spain, and then France no longer fuffered the Appearance of Peace to fubfift between us, but armed in Defence of her Ally.
The Events of the War are well known; we pleafed ourselves with a Victory at Dettingen, where we left our wounded Men to the Care of our Enemies, but our Army was broken at Fontenoy and Val; and though after the Difgrace which we fuffered in the Mediterranean, we had fome naval Success, and an accidental Dearth made Peace neceffary for the French, yet they prefcribed the Conditions, obliged us to give Hoftages, and acted as Conquerors, though as Conquerors of Moderation.
In this War the Americans diftinguifhed themfelves in a Manner unknown and unexpected. The New-English raifed an Army, and under the Command of Pepperel took Cape Breton, with the Affiftance of the Fleet. This is the most important Fortress in America. We pleafed ourfelves fo much with the Acquifition, that we could not think of reftoring it; and, among the Arguments ufed to enfiame the People against Charles Stuart, it was very clamouroufly urged, that if he gained the Kingdom, he would give Cape-Breton back to the French.
The French however had a more eafy Expedient to regain Cape Breton than by exalting Charles Stuart to the English Throne. They took in their Turn Fort St. George, and had our East-India Company