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Observations On The Treaty
by [?]

Observations On The Treaty between his Britannick majesty and imperial majesty of all the Russias, signed at Moscow, Dec. 11, 1742; the treaty between his Britannick majesty and the Landgrave of Hesse Cassel, signed June 18, 1755; and the treaty between his Britannick majesty and her imperial majesty of all the Russias, signed at St. Petersburg, Sept. 19/20, 1755.

These are the treaties which, for many months, filled the senate with debates, and the kingdom with clamours; which were represented, on one part, as instances of the most profound policy and the most active care of the publick welfare, and, on the other, as acts of the most contemptible folly and most flagrant corruption, as violations of the great trust of government, by which the wealth of Britain is sacrificed to private views and to a particular province.

What honours our ministers and negotiators may expect to be paid to their wisdom; it is hard to determine, for the demands of vanity are not easily estimated. They should consider, before they call too loudly for encomiums, that they live in an age, when the power of gold is no longer a secret, and in which no man finds much difficulty in making a bargain, with money in his hand. To hire troops is very easy to those who are willing to pay their price. It appears, therefore, that whatever has been done, was done by means which every man knows how to use, if fortune is kind enough to put them in his power. To arm the nations of the north in the cause of Britain, to bring down hosts against France, from the polar circle, has, indeed, a sound of magnificence, which might induce a mind unacquainted with publick affairs to imagine, that some effort of policy, more than human, had been exerted, by which distant nations were armed in our defence, and the influence of Britain was extended to the utmost limits of the world. But when this striking phenomenon of negotiation is more nearly inspected, it appears a bargain, merely mercantile, of one power that wanted troops more than money, with another that wanted money, and was burdened with troops; between whom their mutual wants made an easy contract, and who have no other friendship for each other, than reciprocal convenience happens to produce.

We shall, therefore, leave the praises of our ministers to others, yet not without this acknowledgment, that if they have done little, they do not seem to boast of doing much; and, that whether influenced by modesty or frugality, they have not wearied the publick with mercenary panegyrists, but have been content with the concurrence of the parliament, and have not much solicited the applauses of the people.

In publick, as in private transactions, men more frequently deviate from the right, for want of virtue, than of wisdom; and those who declare themselves dissatisfied with these treaties, impute them not to folly, but corruption.

By these advocates for the independence of Britain, who, whether their arguments be just, or not, seem to be most favourably heard by the people, it is alleged, that these treaties are expensive, without advantage; that they waste the treasure, which we want for our own defence, upon a foreign interest; and pour the gains of our commerce into the coffers of princes, whose enmity cannot hurt, nor friendship help us; who set their subjects to sale, like sheep or oxen, without any inquiry after the intentions of the buyer; and will withdraw the troops, with which they have supplied us, whenever a higher bidder shall be found.

This, perhaps, is true; but whether it be true, or false, is not worth inquiry. We did not expect to buy their friendship, but their troops; nor did we examine upon what principle we were supplied with assistance; it was sufficient that we wanted forces, and that they were willing to furnish them. Policy never pretended to make men wise and good; the utmost of her power is to make the best use of men, such as they are, to lay hold on lucky hours, to watch the present wants, and present interests of others, and make them subservient to her own convenience.