WAR BETWEEN GREAT BRITAIN AND SPAIN, 1739. -- WAR OF THE AUSTRIAN SUCCESSION, 1740. -- FRANCE JOINS SPAIN AGAINST GREAT BRITAIN, 1744. -- SEA BATTLES OF MATTHEWS, ANSON, AND HAWKE. -- PEACE OF AIX-LA-CHAPELLE, 1748.
W E have now reached the opening of a series of great wars, destined to last with short intervals of peace for nearly half a century, and having, amid many misleading details, one broad characteristic distinguishing them from previous, and from many subsequent, wars. This strife embraced the four quarters of the world, and that not only as side issues here and there, the main struggle being in Europe; for the great questions to be determined by it, concerning the world's history, were the dominion of the sea and the control of distant countries, the possession of colonies, and, dependent upon these, the increase of wealth. Singularly enough it is not till nearly the end of the long contest that great fleets are found engaging, and the struggle transferred to its proper field, the sea. The action of sea power is evident enough, the issue plainly indicated from the beginning; but for a long time there is no naval warfare of any consequence, because the truth is not recognized by the French government. The movement toward colonial extension by France is wholly popular, though illustrated by a few great names; the attitude of the rulers is cold and mistrustful: hence came neglect of the navy, a foregone conclusion of defeat on the main question, and destruction for the time of her sea power.
Such being the character of the coming wars, it is important to realize the relative positions of the three great powers in those quarters of the world, outside of Europe, where the strife was to engage.