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courts, fo recently thwarted by the vigilant fagacity CHA P. of Frederic, would take advantage of his death, and endeavour to reduce northern Germany to dependence. But the provifions of Frederic had not been temporary, to expire with his own life: he acquired and formed fuch ftrength and power as could be protected by mediocrity of talents, that he knew was to be generally expected in fovereigns as well as others, and which only he faw his immediate fucceffor to poffefs. His counsellors had been trained by himself, and were likely to continue the plan of policy which the object of their adoration. had delineated and conducted with fo fignal fuccefs. For the preservation of his dominions, Frederic bequeathed the most effectual fecurities to his fucceffor which human wisdom could provide or devise, by leaving him a full treasury, and a formidable army, wife and experienced counsellors, and a people enthusiastically attached to the government and memory of their illuftrious king. The imperial powers thought it by no means expedient to interfere with a kingdom fo powerfully protected, and were befides maturing their preparations for their own principal defign, in the profecution of which it was their obvious interests to win Pruffia to forbearance, instead of provoking her to war. Thus the death of Frederic made no immediate perceivable difference in the politics of Europe.

in Den


In Denmark a revolution had taken place in Revolution 1784, which proved very beneficial to that kingdom. Ever fince 1772, the queen dowager having triumphed over the unfortunate and ill-ufed Matilda, from the imbecility of the king, retained the

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CHAP. fupreme power which fhe had acquired by fuchunjustifiable means. Her fway was indeed eftablished beyond all control, and beyond the proba bility of fubverfion. She had filled the great offices of state with her adherents and favourites; the fon of the unhappy Matilda was a child, and the chances against his life at that tender age being confiderable, Julia's fon, prince Frederic, (the king's half-brother,) was regarded as the prefumptive fucceffor to the throne: all things feemed to concur in fecuring her influence and authority for life, The exercife of her dominion was far from dispelling the hatred which the dowager-queen fo defervedly incurred by her means of elevation. Imperious and tyrannical, fhe facrificed the national good to the interefts of her fupporters and minions; and was hateful throughout the kingdom, except to her own creatures, Retribution though flow was not the lefs fure; as the prince royal approached to maturity, he indicated qualities that excited the hopes of the people in general, and especially of those, many in number, who were disgusted with the queen-dowager's government. In the feventeenth the heir of the crown, by of his year age, his manly abilities and character, was become the univerfal favourite of the nation, and in a few months acquired fuch influence and power as to overwhelm the ufurpers of his father's authority. With fuch wisdom and fecrecy had he formed his measures, that, being declared of age at feventeen, he was placed at the head of the council-board; when he acquainted the junto that directed the affairs of the kingdom under the queen-dowager, that the king


1786. Queen

dowager difgraced, and the reins of goaffumed by royal.


the prince

his father had no farther occafion for their fervices, CHA P. before they had conceived the most distant idea of their approaching downfal. Having difmiffed these minifters, he published an ordinance, that no orders from the council of ftate were in future to be received, or confidered valid, which had not been previously reported to the king, figned by him, and counter-figned by the prince royal. Having accomplished fo defirable and beneficial a change, the prince conducted himself with temperate, wife, and magnanimous policy toward the junto and its head. He abftained from punishing the planners and moft active inftruments of the revolution 1772, any farther than by the lofs of their offices. On the queen herself he bestowed a fuperb castle and extenfive demefnes in Holstein, whence it was understood fhe was not to return to court. Prince Frederic had never taken any fhare in his mother's cabals; to him his nephew prefented great poffeffions, and made him fecond to himself in the cabinet-council. His fubfequent conduct confirmed and increased the opinion of countrymen ; he bestowed the clofeft attention on public business, and studied the political and commercial interefts of Denmark. His highnefs' planned and executed a very great and royal work, which was finished in 1786, the formation of a fhort and direct junction between the Baltic and the German ocean. This was effected by drawing a navigable canal from weft to east across the peninfula of Jutland. Befides his attention to official duty, the prince manifested a difpofition to litera



CHAP. ture, and became the patron of learning and learned men.


1786. Phyfical caJamities in various parts

of the continent.

During this year and the two former, various parts of the world fuffered dreadful calamities from phyfical caufes. Earthquakes, which had fo defolated Calabria and other parts of Europe, raged both in Afia and America. In Europe and the adjacent parts of Africa and Afia, there was a fucceffion of fevere and irregular seasons; violent ftorms of rain spread inundations over the richest parts of Poland, Lithuania, Germany, Hungary, Italy, and France. Rigorous cold destroyed the crops of Norway and Sweden; and the fame caufes prevented Livonia from affording them the ufual fupplies even the fisheries of the north did not yield their wonted ftores; the confequences were, that Norway, notwithstanding every effort of government, laboured under an abfolute famine. In Iceland a new kind of calamity ravaged the country; mount Hecla, and the other volcanos which fo much distinguish that ifland, although perhaps they promote the purposes of vegetation by communicating a genial warmth to its frozen bofom, have at all times been the terror, and at particular periods the fcourge and deftroyers, of the inhabitThe prefent calamity, however, was totally new the country with its products were now confumed by fubterraneous fire. This destroyer of nature made its first appearance in June 1784, reduced to cinders every thing which it met, and continued burning until the month of May in the following year, having in that time extended its de





vastation about twenty leagues in length, and from CHAP. four to five in breadth. The great river Skaptage, which was from feven to eight fathoms in depth, and half a league in width, was entirely dried up, its bed and channel prefenting a dreadful yawning chafm *. A fimilar fire broke out about this time on the eastern fide of the fame range of mountains, and purfued its courfe. in the oppofite diretion. The peftilence alfo raged with uncommon malignity over thofe countries which it ufually pervades: from the Atlantic borders. of Morocco to the extremities of Egypt, and from Palestine to the mouth of the Euxine, the African and Afiatic coafts of the Mediterranean, with those of Thrace on the oppofite fide, the cruelty of its ravages was fevere, and the deftruction of mankind greater, than at any period within the reach of memory, or perhaps within the records of history.

and political pursuits of of France.

France perfevered in her attention to maritime and Commercial commercial affairs, and endeavoured to increase the number of her naval arfenals and harbours on the ocean. The port of Cherburg, on the coast of Normandy, from its vicinity to England, and lying directly oppofite to Hampshire, feemed directly calculated for this purpose. Here the French were conftructing a capacious bafin, with docks and other requifites neceffary to a great na

* About a fourth part of the confumed foil confifted of a lava, and of moffy bogs or marfhes; the remains of the burnt earth resembled vast heaps of calcined stones, and were of the colour of vitriol. Aanual Register 1786, History of Europe, p..60.

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