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THE AGE OF REVOLUTIONS,
SECTION I.--Change in the Relations of the Catholic Powers lo the Holy See
Dismemberment of Poland.
No country had suffered so severely as France during the late war; the finances had long been in confusion, and the profligate expenditure of a demoralized court aggravated the indignation produced by national distress. Louis XV., though not destitute of abilities, was the slave of his sensual appetites; ruled by his mistresses, and other unworthy favorites, he connived at glaring abuses, and sanctioned the grossest acts of tyranny and rapacity. A spirit of opposition spread through the kingdom, several of the parliaments refused to register the edicts for the continuance of war-taxes, and others remonstrated in a tone of censure to which the French monarchs had been long unaccustomed. This unusual liberty of the parliaments had been in some degree fostered by the court itself; the king permitted these bodies to set bounds to ecclesiastical tyranny, and to suppress the order of the jesuits in France (A. D. 1762); and their spirit was further increased by the intrigues of the duke de Choiseul, who persuaded the king to allow the Parisian parliament to pass sentence on Lally, the unfortunate commander of the French in India, whose only crime was failure under circumstances that rendered success impossible.
Popular discontent was at the same time rapidly spreading in Spain, where the reforms of the prime minister, Squillacé, offended the obstinate prejudices of an ignorant and bigoted nation. Charles III. yielded to the clamors of his subjects and dismissed the minister, but he firmly resolved to take vengeance on the jesuits, who were supposed to have secretly instigated the insurrection. A refoxming minister in Portugal maintained his post in spite of opposition ; the marquis of Pombal ruled the land with iron sway, and confident in the rectitude of his intentions, scorned all opposition. But though he removed all impediments, including the higher order of nobility and the society of jesuits, his reforms took no root in the land, and the institutions which he established by force perished when that force was taken away.
The enmity of Pombal and Choiseul to the jesuits was felt in the Spanish cabinet; the king was indignant at their share in the late disturbances, his minister, Count d'Aranda, regarded the order as hostile to all existing governments. Both took their measures with profound secresy (A. D. 1767). The houses of the jesuits in Madrid were surrounded at night, and the inmates commanded to set out instantly for the coast. An edict was then issued for the banishment of the regulars of that community from Spain and its colonies, and the confiscation of their temporalities. The jesuits in Mexico and Peru were similarly seized ; and in Paraguay, where they had established an almost inde pendent empire, they were suddenly deposed and transported to Europe The king of Naples and the duke of Parma followed the example of the court of Spain, in spite of the urgent remonstrances of Pope Clement XIII.; they also placed new restrictions on the pontiff's jurisdiction in their states, and when Clement made a vigorous effort to support the ancient privileges of the holy see, he found himself opposed to all the Italian powers, except the king of Sardinia, to the remonstrances of Spain and Portugal, and the active hostility of France.
While these disputes between the catholic powers and the head of their church proved that the supremacy of the papacy no longer existed, but in name, the struggles of a small insular people to maintain their national independence excited general sympathy. The Genoese transferred their nominal claims over the island of Corsica to the crown of France, and Choiseul sent a large army to occupy this new acquisition. But the Corsicans, justly enraged at the transfer of their allegiance without the formality of asking their consent, boldly flew to arms, and under the command of the heroic Paoli, prepared for an obstinate resistance. Had the British ministry interfered, the result of the contest would have been very doubtful; but Paoli could not resist the entire force of France, he was driven by the vast superiority of numbers from post to post, until every strong place had yielded to the invaders, when he cut his way through the enemy, and embarked for Leghorn (A. D. 1769). The island submitted to Louis, but many of the Corsicans long continued to harass the French by a guerilla war in their mountain fastnesses.
Choiseul, finding his influence with Louis XV. on the decline, sought to strengthen it by cementing the alliance between the courts of Paris and Vienna. He effected a marriage between the king's grandson and heir and Marie Antoinette, daughter of the emperess-dowager. These ill-omened nuptials were celebrated with extraordinary splendor during a season of great public distress : during the festivities a fatal accident cast a shade of melancholy over all parties ; some confusion arose in the crowd of spectators, and nearly two hundred persons lost their lives in the tumult. "Choiseul involved the king in a quarrel with the parliaments, which precipitated the fall of that able minister; the king reluctantly consented to abandon the new forms of jurisdiction which were proposed, and allow the old courts to resume their functions. This unfortunate and dishonorable proceeding completed the abasement of France ; it was notorious that the duke de Choiseul owed his disgrace to the intrigues of the king's profligate mistress; and whatever may have been the faults of that minister, he would certainly never have permitted the influence of his country to sink so low as it did during the administration of his successor, the duke d’Aguillon.
While France was thus declining, the Russian empire was rapidly acquiring a preponderating influence in eastern Europe. The emperess
* Madame du Barri. She was subsequently one of the victims of the French revolution.
Catherine procured the throne of Poland for one of her favorites, Stanislaus Augustus (A. D. 1765), having sent a Russian army to overawe the diet, when it assembled to choose a sovereign. Frederic of Prussia, anxious to remedy the calamities which the seven years' war had brought upon his country, did not venture to oppose the schemes of the ambitious czarina ; on the contrary, he was gained over by some commercial concessions to aid her projects with all his influence. The new sovereign of Poland, opposed by a licentious aristocracy and a bigoted people, was unable to remedy the disorders of the state, or control the events that soon furnished a pretext for the interference of his powerful neighbors. Poland had long been agitated by religious disputes ; the oppressions of the catholics compelled the dissidents, as the dissenting sects were called, to seek foreign protection; those of the Greek church appealed to the emperess of Russia, while the Lutherans sought aid from the kings of Prussia and Denmark. Catherine, with great promptitude, sent an army to enforce the claims of the dissidents, and paying little regard to the remonstrances of Stanislaus, acted as if Poland had been one of her own provinces. The catholic lords formed a confederacy to maintain the purity of their religion, and the independence of their country, but they were unable to compete with the overwhelming forces of Russia ; Cracow, where they attempted to make a stand, was taken by storm, the fugitives were pursued beyond the Turkish frontiers, and the country that had afforded them refuge was cruelly devastated:
Mustapha III. was more peacefully inclined than most of the sultans that have filled the throne of Constantinople, but he felt that the power which Russia was acquiring in Poland would be dangerous to the security of his northern provinces ; he was indignant at the violation of his dominions, and he was secretly instigated by the French court. The king of Prussia vainly remonstrated with the sultan ;* Mustapha had formed an extravagant estimate of his military resources, and he is said to have been animated by a personal dislike of Catherine. The war was commenced by the Turks (A. D. 1769); their irregular troops entered southern Russia, and committed the most frightful ravages; but when they hazarded a regular engagement at Choczim, they suffered a severe defeat. Catherine prepared to strike a decisive blow against the Turkish power; she sent a fleet from the Baltic round to the Mediterranean, to support an insurrection which her emissaries had excited in Southern Greece (A. D. 1770). The insurgents, aided by a Russian force, at first gained some advantages, but on the first reverse they were abandoned by their allies to the brutal retaliations of their Turkish masters. Soon after, the Turkish fleet of fifteen ships-of-the-line was burned by a Russian squadron in the bay of Chesmé, with the exception of a single vessel that was captured. This was followed by the defeat of the grand Ottoman army near the Pruth, the capture of Bender, Akerman, and Ismail, and the occupation of the entire province of Bessarabia.
Stanislaus was forced to join in the war against the Turks, though he knew that one of the chief causes of their taking up arms was to
* Frederic, who loved to indulge in sarcasm, said that a war between the Russians and the Turks would be a contest between the one-eyed and the blind.
defend the independence of Poland. But Joseph, who had succeeded his father in the German empire (A. D. 1765), began to dread the dangerous ambition of Russia ; and even his mother, Maria Theresa, began to court the friendship of her old rival, Frederic, as a counterpoise to the governing power of the czarina. It was obviously the interest of the northern states, Denmark and Sweden, to adopt a similar 'course of policy; but the governments of both countries were too deeply engaged by their domestic affairs to attend to the state of their foreign relations.
Frederick V., one of the best monarchs that ever occupied the throne of Denmark, was succeeded by Christian V., a prince of weak intellect and dissipated habits (A. D. 1766). Soon after his accession, Christian married Caroline Matilda, one of the sisters of the queen of England, and the engaging manners of this princess won her the favor of the Danish king and people. To maintain her ascendency over tae mind of her husband, Caroline favored the ambition of Struensee a foreign adventurer, who was raised to the office of prime minister, vi rather, sole ruler of Denmark. Struensee's administration was vigorous and useful, but his haughtiness gave great offence to the Danish nobles ; a conspiracy was formed against him, of which the king's step-mother and her son Frederic were the principal instigators, and it was resolved to involve the unfortunate queen Caroline in his fate. Struensee and his friend Brandt were arrested at midnight, by virtue of an order which had been extorted from the imbecile Christian ; they were insulted with the mockery of a trial, and put to a cruel death. The queen was also arrested and sent a prisoner to Cronenberg castle ; dread of British vengeance, however, saved her from personal violence. She was permitted so retire to Hanover, where the remainder of her life was spent in comparative obscurity. The queen dowager, having removed her rival, usurped the royal authority ; a young nobleman named Bernstorff was appointed prime minister, and the court of Copenhagen became remarkable for its subserviency to that of St. Petersburgh.
Gustavus III., a young prince of great vigor and sagacity, ascended the Swedish throne on the death of his father, Adolphus Frederic (A. D. 1771); he had early forined a project for renoving the restrictions which the senate had imposed on the royal authority after the death of Charles XII., and his efforts were seconded by the bulk of the nation, long weary of aristocratic tyranny. The senate, suddenly surrounde i by armed bands, was intimidated into assenting to the instrument of governmert vhich Gustarus hal y repared, anl a revolut on whic'i changed Sweden from one of the most linuited into one of the most absolute monarchies of Europe, was effected without spilling a drop of blood. Dread of a counter-revolution, and the necessity of providing some remedy for the distress which prevailed in Sweden, prevented Gustavus from interfering in the affairs of Poland, a country that had often occupied the anxious cares of his predecessors.
Stanislaus was sincerely anxious to confer the blessings of tranquillity and good government on Poland ; but all his judicious measures were frustrated by the Polish nobles, who clung to their tyrannous and absurd privileges, though they were known to be as pernicious to themselves as they were ruinous to the country. An attempt on the persona
liberty of the unhappy king gave Catherine a pretext for sending a Russian army into the country, and suggested to the Prussian king a schema for the dismemberinent of Poland. A treaty was concluded between Austria, Russia, and Prussia, for dividing the Polish provinces between them. Their armies instantly occupied their several shares ; and the diet, overawed by the united forces of the three powers, was forced to acquiesce in an arrangement that left Poland a merely nominal existence (A. D. 1773). The unhappy Stanislaus, reproached for calamities which it was not in his power to avert, could not avoid retorting on his accusers, and attributing the national calamities to the bigotry, the factious spirit, and the incessant contentions, of the turbulent nobles. By the intervention of Prussia, a treaty was subsequently concluded between Russia and Turkey, by which the emperess gained several important fortresses, a large acquisition of territory, and permission for her subjects to navigate the Black sea (A. D. 1774). Great as these gains were, they were less valuable in themselves than as means for obtaining other objects of Catherine's secret ambition.
Degraded as Louis XV. was, he could not receive, without emotion, intelligence of events which showed the low ebb to which the influence of France was reduced. When informed of the partition of Poland, he could not refrain from exclaiming, “ Had Choiseul been still in the cabinet, this disgraceful transaction might have been averted.” The duke d'Aguillon merited this reproach, but he resolved to atone for his negligence by gratifying the national hatred against the Jesuits, though he had long been suspected of secretly favoring that order. The death of Clement XIII. favored his projects (A. D. 1769). Ganganelli, who succeeded to the papacy under the title of Clement XIV., felt that the time was for ever gone by when the extravagant claims of the pontiffs could be maintained, and he therefore sought a reconciliation with the catholic sovereigns by making reasonable concessions. After a long but not unjustifiable delay, he issued a bull suppressing the order of jesuits; and most of the catholic prelates, who had long been jealous of that fraternity, eagerly enforced the papal edict (A. D. 1773). Little opposition was made by the jesuits to this decree, but the insurrection in Sicily and the deaths of Louis XV. and Pope Ganganelli (A. D. 1774) were attributed to their secret practices, though not a shadow of proof could be adduced to support such severe accusations. Indeed, it is notorious that Louis died of small-pox, and Ganganelli of a constitutional disease to which he had long been a martyr. Louis XVI., of whom his subjects had long been taught to form the most favorable expectations, asceniled the throne of France : Angelo Braschi was elected to the papacy, under the title of Pius VI., by the influence of the more bigoted cardinals, who believed that he would be a more zealous supporter of the church than his predecessors.
SECTION II.--History of England from the Peace of Paris to the Commence
ment of the American War.
When the British ministry concluded a separate treaty with France, they dissevered their country from its expensive connexion with the continent, but at the same time they diminished its influence in Euro