Such is the loss of Spain; let us now compute the profit of Britain. We have, by obtaining a disavowal of Buccarreli's expedition, and a restitution of our settlement, maintained the honour of the crown, and the superiority of our influence. Beyond this what have we acquired? What, but a bleak and gloomy solitude, an island, thrown aside from human use, stormy in winter, and barren in summer; an island, which not the southern savages have dignified with habitation; where a garrison must be kept in a state that contemplates with envy the exiles of Siberia; of which the expense will be perpetual, and the use only occasional; and which, if fortune smile upon our labours, may become a nest of smugglers in peace, and in war the refuge of future bucaniers. To all this the government has now given ample attestation, for the island has been since abandoned, and, perhaps, was kept only to quiet clamours, with an intention, not then wholly concealed, of quitting it in a short time.
This is the country of which we have now possession, and of which a numerous party pretends to wish that we had murdered thousands for the titular sovereignty. To charge any men with such madness approaches to an accusation defeated by its own incredibility. As they have been long accumulating falsehoods, it is possible that they are now only adding another to the heap, and that they do not mean all that they profess. But of this faction what evil may not be credited? They have hitherto shown no virtue, and very little wit, beyond that mischievous cunning for which it is held, by Hale, that children may be hanged!
As war is the last of remedies, "cuncta prius tentanda," all lawful expedients must be used to avoid it. As war is the extremity of evil, it is, surely, the duty of those, whose station intrusts them with the care of nations, to avert it from their charge. There are diseases of animal nature, which nothing but amputation can remove; so there may, by the depravation of human passions, be sometimes a gangrene in collective life, for which fire and the sword are necessary remedies; but in what can skill or caution be better shown, than preventing such dreadful operations, while there is yet room for gentler methods!
It is wonderful with what coolness and indifference the greater part of mankind see war commenced. Those that hear of it at a distance, or read of it in books, but have never presented its evils to their minds, consider it as little more than a splend id game, a proclamation, an army, a battle, and a triumph. Some, indeed, must perish in the most successful field, but they die upon the bed of ho nour, "resign their lives amidst the joys of conquest, and, filled with England's glory, smile in death."
The life of a modern soldier is ill represented by heroick fiction. War has means of destruction more formidable than the cannon and the sword. Of the thousands and ten thousands, that perished in our late contests with France and Spain, a very small part ever felt the stroke of an enemy; the rest languished in tents and ships, amidst damps and putrefaction; pale, torpid, spiritless, and helpless ; gasping and groaning, unpitied among men, made obdurate by long continuance of hopeless misery; and were, at last, whelm ed in pits, or heaved into the ocean, without notice and without remembrance................