« PreviousContinue »
I think that in his wars he has seldom brought less into the field in all places than 200,000 fighting men, besides what have been left in garrisons; and I think the common computation is, that of an army, at the end of a campaign, without sieges or battles, scarce four-fifths can be mustered of those that came into the field at the beginning of the war. His wars at several times, until the last
have held about 20 years; and if 40,000 yearly lost, or a fifth part of his armies, are to be multiplied by 20, he cannot have lost less than 800,000 of his old suhjects, and all able-bodied men; a greater number than the new subjects he had acquired.
But this loss is not all. Providence seems to have equally divided the whole mass of mankind into different sexes, that every woman may have her husband, and that both may equally contribute to the continuance of the species. It follows then, that for all the men that have been lost, as many women must have lived single, and it were but charity to believe, they have not done all the service they were capable of doing in their generation, In so long a course of years great part of them must have died, and all the rest must go off at last, without leaving any representatives behind. By this account he must have lost not only 800,000 subjects, but double that number, and all the increase that was reasonably to be expected from it.
• It is said in the last war there was a famine in his kingdom, which swept away two millions of his people. This is hardly credible. If the loss was only of one-fifth part of that sum, it was very great.
But it is no wonder there should be famine, where so much of the people's substance is taken away for the king's use, that they have not sufficient left to provide against accidents; where so many of the men are taken from the plough to serye the king in his
wars, and a great part of the tillage is left to the weaker hands of so many women and children. Whatever was the loss, it must undoubtedly be placed to the account of his ambition.
• And so must also the destruction or banishment of 3 or 400,000 of his reformed subjects; he could have no other reasons for valuing those lives so very cheap but only to recommend himself to the bigotry of the Spanish nation.
• How should there be industry in a country where all property is precarious ? What subject will sow his land, that his prince may reap the whole harvest? Parsimony and frugality must be strangers to such a people; for will any man save to-day, what he has reason to fear will be taken from him to-morrow? And where is the encouragement for marrying ? Will any man think of raising children, without any assurance of clothing for their backs, or so much as food for their bellies? And thus, by his fatal ambition, he must have lessened the number of his subjects, not only by slaughter and destruction ; but by preventing their very births, he has done as much as was possible towards destroying posterity itself.
• Is this then the great, the invincible Lewis ? This the immortal man, the tout puissant, or the almighty, as his flatterers have called him? Is this the man that is so celebrated for his conquests ? For every subject he has acquired, has he not lost three that were his inheritance ? Are not his troops fewer, and those neither so well fed, or clothed, or paid, as they were formerly, though he has now so much greater cause to exert himself? And what can be the reason of all this, but that his revenue is a great deal less, his subjects are either poorer, or not so many to be plundered by constant taxes for his use?
• It is well for him he had found out a way to steal a kingdom;* if he had gone on conquering as he did before, his ruin had been long since finished. This brings to my mind a saying of King Pyrrhus, after he had a second time beat the Romans in a pitched battle, and was complimented by his generals; “Yes," says he,“ such another victory, and I am quite undone.”
And since I have mentioned Pyrrhus, I will end with a very good, though known story of this ambitious madman. When he had shewn the utmost fondness for his expedition against the Romans, Cyneas, his chief minister, asked him what he proposed to himself by this war? “ Why, " says Pyrrhus,“ to conquer the Romans, and reduce all Italy to my obedience.”
" What then?” says Cyneas. “ To pass over into Sicily,” says Pyrrhus, « and then all the Sicilians must be our subjects.' “ And what does your majesty intend next?" “ Why
says the king, “to conquer Carthage, and make myself master of all Africa.” “ And what, the minister, " is to be the end of all
your expeditions ?” “Why then,” says the king, the rest of our lives we will sit down to good wine." “How, sir,” replied Cyneas, “ to better than we have now before us? Have we not already as much as we can drink ?"
* Riot and excess are not the becoming characters of princes; but if Pyrrhus and Lewis had debauched like Vitellius, they had been less hurtful to their people.
• Your humble servant, T.
* The kingdom of Spain, seized by Lewis XIV. in 1701, for his grandson, as left him by the will of Charles II. which the enemies of France looked upon as forged, or made when Charles was non compos.
N° 181. THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 1711.
His lacrymis vitam damus, et miserescimus ultrò.
VIRG. Æn. ii. 145. Mov'd by these tears, we pity and protect.
I am more pleased with a letter that is filled with touches of nature than of wit. The following one is of this kind :
Among all the distresses which happen in families, I do not remember that you have touched upon the marriage of children without the consent of their parents. I am one of these unfortunate per
I was about fifteen when I took the liberty to choose for myself; and have ever since languished under the displeasure of an inexorable father, who, though he sees me happy in the best of husbands, and blessed with very fine children, can never be prevailed upon to forgive me. He was so kind to me before this unhappy accident, that indeed it makes
my breach of duty, in some measure, inexcusable; and at the same time creates in me such a tenderness towards him, that I love him above all things, and would die to be reconciled to him. I have thrown myself at his feet, and besought him with tears to pardon me; but he always pushes me away, and spurns me from him. I have written several letters to him, but he will neither open nor receive them. About two years ago I sent my
little boy to him, dressed in a new apparel; but the child returned to me crying, because he said his grand
father would not see him, and had ordered him to be put out of his house. My mother is won over to my side, but dares not mention me to my father, for fear of provoking him. About a month ago he lay sick upon his bed, and in great danger of his life: 1 was pierced to the heart at the news, and could not forbear going to inquire after his health. My mother took this opportunity of speaking in my behalf: she told him, with abundance of tears, that I was come to see him, that. I could not speak to her for weeping, and that I should certainly break my heart if he refused at that time to give me his blessing, and he reconciled to me. He was so far from relenting towards me, that he bid her speak no more of me, unless she had a mind to disturb him in his last moments; for, sir, you must know that he has the reputation of an honest and religious man, which makes my
misfortune so much the greater. God be thanked he is since recovered: but his severe usage has given me such a blow, that I shall soon sink under it, unless I may be relieved by any impressions which the reading of this in your paper may make upon him.
Of all hardnesses of heart there is none so inexcusable as that of parents towards their children. An obstinate, inflexible, unforgiving temper is odious upon all occasions; but here it is unnatural. The love, tenderness, and compassion, which are apt to arise in us towards those who depend upon us, is that by which the whole world of life is
upheld. The Supreme Being, by the transcendent excellency and goodness of his nature, extends his mercy towards all his works; and because his creatures have not such a spontaneous benevolence,