[ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]
.This was the project of Leibnitz, beforespoken of, which has special interest for our subject because, in proposing to re-verse the lines which Louisthen laid down, to make continental expansion secondary and growth beyond the sea the primary object ofFrance, the tendency avowedly and necessarily was to base the greatness of the country upon the control ofthe sea and of commerce.The immediate object offered to the France of that day, with the attainment ofwhich, however, she could not have stopped short, was the conquest of Egypt; that country which, facing boththe Mediterranean and Eastern seas, gave control of the great commercial route which in our own day hasbeen completed by the Suez Canal.That route had lost much of its value by the discovery of the way roundthe Cape of Good Hope, and yet more by the unsettled and piratical conditions of the seas through which itlay; but with a really strong naval power occupying the key of the position it might have been largely restored.Such a power posted in Egypt would, in the already decaying condition of the Ottoman Empire, havecontrolled the trade not only of India and the far East, but also of the Levant; but the enterprise could not havestopped there.The necessity of mastering the Mediterranean and opening the Red Sea, closed to Christianvessels by Mohammedan bigotry, would have compelled the occupation of stations on either side of Egypt;and France would have been led step by step, as England has been led by the possession of India, to theseizure of points like Malta, Cyprus, Aden, in short, to a great sea power.That is clear now; but it will beinteresting to hear the arguments by which Leibnitz sought to convince the French king two hundred yearsago.After pointing out the weakness of the Turkish Empire, and the readiness with which it might be furtherembarrassed by stirring up Austria and Poland, the latter the traditional ally of France; after showing thatFrance had no armed enemy in the Mediterranean, and that on the other side of Egypt she would meet thePortuguese colonies, longing to obtain protection against the Dutch in India, the memorial proceeds:CHAPTER III.WAR OF ENGLAND AND FRANCE IN ALLIANCE AGAINST THE PROVINCES, 1672-1674.66 The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783 The conquest of Egypt, that Holland of the East, is infinitely easier than that of the United Provinces.Franceneeds peace in the west, war at a distance.War with Holland will probably ruin the new Indian companies aswell as the colonies and commerce lately revived by France, and will increase the burdens of the people whilediminishing their resources.The Dutch will retire into their maritime towns, stand there on the defensive inperfect safety, and assume the offensive on the sea with great chance of success.If France does not obtain acomplete victory over them, she loses all her influence in Europe, and by victory she endangers that influence.In Egypt, on the contrary, a repulse, almost impossible, will be of no great consequence, and victory will givethe dominion of the seas, the commerce of the East and of India, the preponderance in Christendom, and eventhe empire of the East on the ruins of the Ottoman power.The possession of Egypt opens the way toconquests worthy of Alexander; the extreme weakness of the Orientals is no longer a secret.Whoever hasEgypt will have all the coasts and islands of the Indian Ocean.It is in Egypt that Holland will be conquered; itis there she will be despoiled of what alone renders her prosperous, the treasures of the East.She will bestruck without being able to ward off the blow.Should she wish to oppose the designs of France upon Egypt,she would be overwhelmed with the universal hatred of Christians; attacked at home, on the contrary, not onlycould she ward off the aggression, but she could avenge herself sustained by universal public opinion, whichsuspects the views of France of ambition. (1)  1.Martin: History of France. The memorial had no effect. All that the efforts of ambition and human prudence could do to lay thefoundations for the destruction of a nation, Louis XIV.now did.Diplomatic strategy on a vast scale wasdisplayed in order to isolate and hem in Holland.Louis, who had been unable to make Europe accept theconquest of Belgium by France, now hoped to induce it to see without trembling the fall of Holland. Hisefforts were in the main successful.The Triple Alliance was broken; the King of England, though contrary tothe wishes of his people, made an offensive alliance with Louis; and Holland, when the war began, foundherself without an ally in Europe, except the worn-out kingdom of Spain and the Elector of Brandenburg,then by no means a first-class State.But in order to obtain the help of Charles II., Louis not only engaged topay him large sums of money, but also to give to England, from the spoils of Holland and Belgium,Walcheren, Sluys, and Cadsand, and even the islands of Goree and Voorn; the control, that is, of the mouthsof the great commercial rivers the Scheldt and the Meuse.With regard to the united fleets of the two nations,it was agreed that the officer bearing the admiral's flag of England should command in chief.The question ofnaval precedence was reserved, by not sending the admiral of France afloat; but it was practically yielded.It isevident that in his eagerness for the ruin of Holland and his own continental aggrandizement Louis wasplaying directly into England's hand, as to power on the sea.A French historian is justified in saying:  Thesenegotiations have been wrongly judged.It has been often repeated that Charles sold England to Louis XIV.This is true only of internal policy.Charles indeed plotted the political and religious subjugation of Englandwith the help of a foreign power; but as to external interests, he did not sell them, for the greater share in theprofit from the ruin of the Dutch was to go to England. (1)  1.Martin: History of France. During the years preceding the war the Dutch made every diplomatic effort to avert it, but the hatred ofCharles and Louis prevented any concession being accepted as final.An English royal yacht was ordered topass through the Dutch ships-of-war in the Channel, and to fire on them if they did not strike their flags.InJanuary, 1672, England sent an ultimatum, summoning Holland to acknowledge the right of the Englishcrown to the sovereignty of the British seas, and to order its fleets to lower their flags to the smallest Englishman-of-war; and demands such as these received the support of a French king.The Dutch continued to yield,but seeing at length that all concessions were useless, they in February ordered into commission seventy-fiveships-of-the- line, besides smaller vessels.On the 23d of March the English, without declaration of war,attacked a fleet of Dutch merchantmen; and on the 29th the king declared war.This was followed, April 6th,by the declaration of Louis XIV.; and on the 28th of the same month he set out to take command in person ofCHAPTER III.WAR OF ENGLAND AND FRANCE IN ALLIANCE AGAINST THE PROVINCES, 1672-1674.67 The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783his army.The war which now began, including the third and last of the great contests between the English and Dutchupon the ocean, was not, like those before it, purely a sea war; and it will be necessary to mention its leadingoutlines on the land also, not only in order to clearness of impression, but also to bring out the desperatestraits to which the republic was reduced, and the final deliverance through its sea power in the hands of thegreat seaman De Ruyter [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]