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XXXV.

receive assurances that the peace was likely to re- C HA P. main undisturbed ; the happy effects of general tranquillity appeared in the extension of the na- 1785 tional commerce, and he should adopt every meafure tending to confirm these advantages, and to give additional encouragement to the manufactures and industry of his people.

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CHAP. XXXVI.

Continental affairs.--Death and character of Frederic of

Prufia.--His provifons for the security of his fucceffor.Revolution in Denmark.- Queen dowager disgraced, and the reins of government assumed by the prince royal.-Phyfical calamities in various parts of the continent.--commercial and political pursuits of France. --Amiable character of Louis XVI.-Britain ;~Alarming attempts against our sovereign,-providentially prevented.-Magnanimous humanity of the king.The person proves to be a lunatic named Margaret Nicholson.-General consternation on hearing of the attempt.-Anxious affection of all ranks for their revered fovereign. Congratulatory addresses.

c H A P. XXXVI.

Continental affairs. Death and character of

Prullia.

ON
n the continent of Europe, no event so much

distinguished the year 1786, as the death of 1786. Frederic II. king of Prullia; who, for half a cen

tury, had acted such a conspicuous part on the

grand military and political theatre. Were we to Frederic of estimate his conduct on the simple principle, that a

long and constant series of successes must arise from the possession and steady exertion of adequate qualities, we should find grounds for concluding, that the talents of Frederic, as a soldier, a statesman, and a law-giver, were fingularly eminent. Concerning a man who has long enjoyed the uncontrolled direction of any species of affairs, we may fairly and candidly ask, in what state did he find the subject of his trust ? did any material advantage asist, or difficulty retard, its improvement ? has he left the professed objects of his care in a better or worse

Gituation?

XXXVI.

fituation? When the government of Prussia de- CHAP, volved upon Frederic, he found a small, inconfiderable, and disjointed kingdom, without arts, industry,

1786. or riches; and without either the difpofition or means of rendering the territory productive, the inhabitants prosperous, or the state respectable. The treasury was scanty, and the income inferior to the necessary expenditure; his dominions were surrounded by powerful and jealous potentates, who commanded numerous, valiant, and well-disciplined armies : in fuch circumstances, Frederic raised his country to be a great, well-compacted, and flourishing empire. By teaching his subjects industry, agricultural skill, manufactures, and commerce, he bettered their condition, civilized their manners, enlightened their understandings, and enabled them to acquire the comforts and enjoyments of life. His kingdom, which before occupied a small space in the geography, and still less in the politics, of Europe, was by him rendered the terror of its most for. midable. foes, and the admiration of mankind. Great as was the result, there are more special grounds for estimating the character of Frederic than bare effects: his progress exbibits the operations of the most efficacious qualities; an understanding that grasped every object of necessary or useful consideration; an invention, rapidly fertile in resources, increased both in force and effort with the difficulties by which its exertion was required: self-possession never suffered his powers to be sufpended by either peril or calamity; intrepid courage faced dangér, and magnanimous fortitude, sustaining adversity, rendered misfortunes temporary,

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which

CHA P. which would have overwhelmed ethers in deftrucXXXVI.

tion. Never had a leader with so small a force to 1786. contend with such a powerful combination, not of

mere multitude (as when Asiatic enervation by feeble crowds impotently tried to overwhelm Euros pean strength), but of hardy, disciplined, and veteran troops, equal to his own in prowess and military skill, and quadruple in number. Frederic experienced dismal reverses of fortune; having attained the highest pinnacle of success by dint of genius, he, from incidents and circumstances, against which no wisdom could provide, was driven to the lowest abyss of disaster ; the very existence of his kingdom became doubtful; his in. flexible constancy, uninterrupted perseverance, and transcendent abilities, triumphed in calamities, and rose through adversity to victory and glory. His exertions during the seven years war demonstrated to his enemies, that all their attempts to crush Frederic were unavailing against him, and recoiled on themselves.' Hostilities being terminated, he had leisure to cultivate the arts of peace, and both in planning and executing measures for that purpose, he proved that his mind was formed for excelling not only in war, but in every other great and difficult pursuit to which circumstances might require the direction of his efforts. Complete comprehension of objects fimplified plans for their attainment: the Prussian king was a great inventor in the military system, particularly in the mode of attack. His object was to render the affault irrea fistible in one or more points, so that the confusion produced there might be communicated to the

whole would

XXXVI.

whole line; the means were not merely to advance CH A P. intrepidly and charge vigorously, but in the moment of onset to form such unforeseen and skilful disposi.

1786. tions, as would enable an army, greatly inferior in number, to surpass the enemy in exertion, and wherever the action was likely to prove most decisive, to bring a greater front to act against a smaller *. His internal improvements proposed at once to increase the resources and meliorate the character of his subjects ; to render them, both from external circumstances and personal qualities, fitter for securing and extending individual and national prosperity, virtue, and happiness. Addicted himself to letters, he was extremely attentive to the education of his subjects, according to their circumstances, condition, or probable and destined pursuits. Tinctured with infidelity, he was far from encouraging its general diffusion. Totally free himself from bigotted prejudice or superstition, he knew the compatibility of such errors in others with most beneficial conduct, and granted every sect full and undisturbed toleration.

That there were great ; alloys among Frederic's excellencies, he would be a partial panegyrist, not an impartial historian, who should deny. The justice of several parts of his conduct in the early part of his reign was very questionable. One very important act in a later period admits of no dispute: the dismemberment of Poland will always remain a monument of exorbitant ambition and unjustifiable usurpation by Frederic and the other powers concerned. It

* See Gillies's Frederic.

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