Greek Byways

Greek Byways

Greek Byways

Greek Byways

Excerpt

Aristotle, Pol. viii , 8, 7, p. 1328 b.

HE carried his victorious arms from Tobago to St Domingo, from St Domingo to St Lucia, from St Lucia to Guadeloupe. This was the traditional mode of making war on France." In these caustic sentences Goldwin Smith describes the operations of Pitt as war minister fighting Napoleon who made war on quite different lines, less traditional lines. Tradition emphasized the importance of the West Indies. Readers of Jane Austen remember how she sends Sir Thomas Bertram to Antigua, and brings him back at the wrong moment, thinner, with "the burnt, fagged, worn look of fatigue and a hot climate", but cheerful as one who had escaped the French privateer. Mr A. H. Norway, in his charming book, The Post-office Packet Service, has much to tell us of the Indies and the privateer,--worse still in 1812 when Mr Madison made that war upon us, which Heaven punished by giving a victory over the British and two presidencies over the Americans to Andrew Jackson. Atlantic trade before the American revolution had been on a three-cornered route, between Britain, New England and the West Indies; and the Americans were shocked to find what independence cost them in being cut out of the islands. Strangest of all, when one looks at the story of two and a half centuries, it is recorded that Oliver Cromwell suggested to the Puritan settlers in Massachusetts and Connecticut that they might with advantage remove to Jamaica. The centuries of our Empire have seen the West Indies in the very forefront of our possessions, in the very thick of our political struggles, and at last in the background of everyone's memory. What is the clue?

One great feature of History is that there are always more clues than one, that a variety of causes produces the significant movements. But in the study, if not in parliament, it is safe to isolate a filctor, if one realizes that analysis is one thing and . . .

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