« ElőzőTovább »
sufficient to survey the aggregate without a inquiry; and that, if any lord shall connive at minute examination of the parts. his vassals keeping arms in their custody, his village shall be reduced to ashes.
It is easy to perceive, that, if the King of Prussia's reasons be sufficient, ambition or animosity can never want a plea for violence and invasion. What he charges upon the Queen of Hungary, the waste of country, the expulsion of the Bavarians, and the employment of foreign troops, is the unavoidable consequence of a war inflamed on either side to the utmost violence. All these grievances subsisted when he made the peace, and therefore they could very little justify its breach.
It is hard to find upon what pretence the King of Prussia could treat the Bohemians as criminals, for preparing to defend their native country, or maintaining their allegiance to their lawful sovereign against an invader, whether he appears principal or auxiliary, whether he professes to intend tranquillity or confusion.
It is true, that every prince of the empire is obliged to support the imperial dignity, and assist the emperor when his rights are violated. And every subsequent contract must be understood in a sense consistent with former obligations. Nor had the king power to make a peace on terms contrary to that constitution by which he held a place among the Germanic electors. But he could have easily discovered that not the emperor but the Duke of Bavaria was the queen's enemy, not the administrator of the imperial power, but the claimant of the Austrian dominions. Nor did his allegiance to the emperor, supposing the emperor injured, oblige him to more than a succour of ten thousand men. But ten thousand men could not conquer Bohemia, and without the conquest of Bohemia he could receive no reward for the zeal and fidelity which he so loudly professed.
His progress was such as gave great hopes to the enemies of Austria: like Cæsar, he conquered as he advanced, and met with no opposition till he reached the walls of Prague. The indignation and resentment of the Queen of Hungary may be easily conceived; the alliance of Francfort was now laid open to all Europe; and the partition of the Austrian dominions was again publicly projected. They were to be shared among the emperor, the King of Prussia, the Elector Palatine, and the Landgrave of Hesse. All the powers of Europe who had dreamed of controlling France, were awakened to their former terrors; all that had been done was now to be done again; and every court, from the Straits of Gibralter to the Frozen Sea, was filled with exultation or terror, with schemes of conquest or precautions for defence.
The success of this enterprise he had taken all possible precaution to secure. He was to invade a country guarded only by the faith of treaties, and therefore left unarmed, and unprovided of all defence. He had engaged the French to attack Prince Charles, before he should repass the Rhine, by which the Austrians would at least have been hindered from a speedy march into Bohemia: they were likewise to yield him such other assistance as he might want.
Relying therefore upon the promises of the French, he resolved to attempt the ruin of the house of Austria, and, in August 1741, broke into Bohemia at the head of a hundred and four thousand men. When he entered the country, he published a proclamation, promising, that his army should observe the strictest discipline, and that those who made no resistance should be suffered to remain in quiet in their habitations. He required that all arms, in the custody of whomsoever they might be placed, should be given up, and put into the hands of public officers. He still declared himself to act only as an auxiliary to the emperor, and with no other design than to establish peace and tranquillity throughout Germany, his dear country.
In this proclamation there is one paragraph of which I do not remember any precedent. He threatens, that if any peasant should be found With arins, he shall be hanged without further
The king delighted with his progress, and expecting, like other mortals elated with success, that his prosperity could not be interrupted, continued his march, and began in the latter end of September the siege of Prague. He had gained several of the outer posts, when he was informed that the convoy which attended his artillery was attacked by an unexpected party of the Austrians. The king went immediately to their assistance with the third part of his army, and found his troops put to flight, and the Austrians hasting away with his cannons: such a loss would have disabled him at once. He fell upon the Austrians, whose number would not enable them to withstand him, recovered his artillery, and having also defeated Bathiani, raised his batteries; and there being no artillery to be placed against him, he destroyed a great part of the city. He then ordered four attacks to be made at once, and reduced the besieged to such extremities, that in fourteen days the governor was obliged to yield the place.
At the attack commanded by Schwerin, a grenadier is reported to have mounted the bastion alone, and to have defended himself for some time with his sword, till his followers mounted after him; for this act of bravery, the king made him a lieutenant, and gave him a patent of nobility. Nothing now remained but that the Austrians should lay aside all thought of invading France, and apply their whole power to their own defence. Prince Charles, at the first news of the Prussian invasion, prepared to repass the Rhine. This the French, according to their contract
with the king of Prussia, should have attempted to hinder; but they knew by experience the Austrians would not be beaten without resistance, and that resistance always incommodes an assailant. As the king of Prussia rejoiced in the distance of the Austrians, whom he considered as entangled in the French territories; the French rejoiced in the necessity of their return, and pleased themselves with the prospect of easy conquests, while powers whom they considered with equal malevolence should be employed in massacring each other.
Prince Charles took the opportunity of bright moonshine to repass the Rhine; and Noailles, who had early intelligence of his motions, gave nim very little disturbance, but contented himself with attacking the rear-guard, and when they retired to the main body ceased his pursuit.
The king, upon the reduction of Prague, struck a medal, which had on one side a plan of the town, with this inscription:
"Prague taken by the King of Prussia, September 16th, 1744;
For the third time in three years."
On the other side were two verses, in which he prayed, 66 That his Conquests might produce Peace." He then marched forward with the rapidity which constitutes his military character, took possession of almost all Bohemia, and began to talk of entering Austria and besieging Vienna.
The queen was not yet wholly without resource. The elector of Saxony, whether invited or not, was not comprised in the union of Frankfort; and as every sovereign is growing less as his next neighbour is growing greater, he could not heartily wish success to a confederacy which was to aggrandise the other powers of Germany. The Prussians gave him likewise a particular and immediate provocation to oppose them; for, when they departed to the conquest of Bohemia, with all the elation of imaginary success, they passed through his dominions with unlicensed and contemptuous disdain of his authority. As the approach of Prince Charles gave a new prospect of events, he was easily persuaded to enter into an alliance with the queen, whom he furnished with a very large body of troops.
The King of Prussia having left a garrison in Prague, which he commanded to put the burghers to death if they left their houses in the night, went forward to take the other towns and fortresses, expecting, perhaps, that Prince Charles would be interrupted in his march; but the French, though they appeared to follow him, either could not or would not overtake him.
In a short time, by marches pressed on with the utmost eagerness, Charles reached Bohemia, leaving the Bavarians to regain the possession
of the wasted plains of their country, which their enemies, who still kept the strong places, might again seize at will. At the approach of the Austrian army, the courage of the King of Prussia seemed to have failed him. He retired from post to post, and evacuated town after town, and fortress after fortress, without resistance, or appearance of resistance, as if he was resigning them to the rightful owners.
It might have been expected that he should have made some effort to rescue Prague; but, after a faint attempt to dispute the passage of the Elbe, he ordered his garrison of eleven thousand men to quit the place. They left behind them their magazines, and heavy artillery, among which were seven pieces of remarkable excellence, called "The Seven Electors." But they took with them their field cannon and a great number of carriages laden with stores and plunder, which they were forced to leave in their way to the Saxons and Austrians that harassed their march. They at last entered Silesia with the loss of about a third part.
The King of Prussia suffered much in his retreat; for besides the military stores, which he left every where behind him, even to the clothes of his troops, there was a want of provisions in his army, and consequently frequent desertions and many diseases; and a soldier sick or killed was equally lost to a flying army.
At last he re-entered his own territories, and, having stationed his troops in places of security, returned for a time to Berlin, where he forbade all to speak either ill or well of the campaign.
To what end such a prohibition could conduce, it is difficult to discover: there is no country in which men can be forbidden to know what they know, and what is universally known may as well be spoken. It is true, that in popular governments seditious discourses may inflame the vulgar; but in such governments they cannot be restrained, and in absolute monarchies they are of little effect.
When the Prussians invaded Bohemia, and this whole nation was fired with resentment, the King of England gave orders in his palace that none should mention his nephew with disrespect; by this command he maintained the decency necessary between princes, without enforcing, and probably without expecting, obedience but in his own presence.
the queen of Hungary might perhaps have made peace on her own terms; but keenness of resentment, and arrogance of success, withheld her from the due use of the present opportunity. It is said, that the King of Prussia in his retreat зent letters to Prince Charles, which were supposed to contain ample concessions, but were sent back unopened. The King of England of fered likewise to mediate between them; but his propositions were rejected at Vienna, where a resolution was taken not only to revenge the interruption of their success on the Rhine by the recovery of Silesia, but to reward the Saxons for their seasonable help by giving them part of the Prussian dominions.
In the beginning of the year 1745, died the Emperor Charles of Bavaria; the treaty of Francfort was consequently at an end; and the King of Prussia, being no longer able to maintain the character of auxiliary to the emperor, and having avowed no other reason for the war, might have honourably withdrawn his forces, and on his own principles have complied with terms of peace; but no terms were offered him; the queen pursued him with the utmost ardour of hostility, and the French left him to his own conduct and his own destiny.
His Bohemian conquests were already lost; and he was now chased back into Silesia, where, at the beginning of the year, the war continued in an equilibration by alternate losses and advantages. In April, the Elector of Bavaria seeing his dominions overrun by the Austrians, and receiving very little succour from the French, made a peace with the Queen of Hungary upon easy conditions, and the Austrians had more troops to employ against Prussia.
But the revolutions of war will not suffer human presumption to remain long unchecked. The peace with Bavaria was scarcely concluded, when the battle of Fontenoy was lost, and all the allies of Austria called upon her to exert her utmost power for the preservation of the Low Countries; and, a few days after the loss at Fontenoy, the first battle between the Prussians and the combined army of Austrians and Saxons was fought at Niedburgh, in Silesia.
The particulars of this battle were variously reported by the different parties, and published in the journals of that time; to transcribe them would be tedious and useless, because accounts of battles are not easily understood, and because there are no means of determining to which of the relations credit should be given. It is suffi
clent that they all end in claiming or allowing a complete victory to the King of Prussia, who gained all the Austrian artillery, killed four thousand, took seven thousand prisoners, with the loss, according to the Prussian narrative, of only sixteen hundred men.
He now advanced again into Bohemia, where, however, he made no great progress. The Queen of Hungary, though defeated, was not subdued. She poured in her troops from all parts to the reinforcement of Prince Charles, and determined to continue the struggle with all her power. The king saw that Bohemia was an unpleasing and inconvenient theatre of war, in which he should be ruined by a miscarriage, and should get little by a victory. Saxony was left defenceless, and, if it was conquered, might be plundered.
He therefore published declaration against the Elector of Saxony, and, without waiting for reply, invaded his dominions. This invasion produced another battle at Standentz, which ended, as the former, to the advantage of the Prussians. The Austrians had some advantage in the beginning; and their irregular troops, who are always daring, and are always ravenous, broke into the Prussian camp, and carried away the military chest. But this was easily repaired by the spoils of Saxony.
The Queen of Hungary was still inflexible, and hoped that fortune would at last change. She recruited once more her army, and prepared to invade the territories of Brandenburgh; but the King of Prussia's activity prevented all her designs. One part of his forces seized Leipsic, and the other once more defeated the Saxons; the King of Poland fled from his dominions, Prince Charles retired into Bohemia. The King of Prussia entered Dresden as a conqueror, exacted very severe contributions from the whole country, and the Austrians and Saxons were at last compelled to receive from him such a peace as he would grant. He imposed no severe conditions except the payment of the contributions, made no new claim of dominions, and, with the Elector Palatine, acknowledged the Duke of Tuscany for emperor.
The lives of princes, like the histories of nations, have their periods. We shall here suspend our narrative of the King of Prussia, who was now at the height of human greatness, giving laws to his enemies, and courted by all the powers of Europe.
THOUGH the writer of the followings ESSAYS* | which was soon afterwards endowed, and took seems to have had the fortune, common among the name of Pembroke-college, from the Earl men of letters, of raising little curiosity after his of Pembroke, then chancellor of the University. private life, and has, therefore, few memorials He was admitted to the degree of Bachelor of preserved of his felicities and misfortunes; yet, Arts, January 31st, 1626-7; being, as Wood because an edition of a posthumous work appears remarks, the first man of eminence graduated imperfect and neglected, without some account from the new college, to which the zeal or gratiof the author, it was thought necessary to attude of those that love it most can wish little tempt the gratification of that curiosity which better than that it may long proceed as it began. naturally inquires by what peculiarities of nature or fortune eminent men have been distinguished, how uncommon attainments have been gained, and what influence learning had on its possessors, or virtue on its teachers.
Having afterwards taken his degree of Master of Arts, he turned his studies to physic, and practised it for some time in Oxfordshire; but soon afterwards, either induced by curiosity, or invited by promises, he quitted his settlement, and accompanied † his father-in-law, who had some employment in Ireland, in a visitation of the forts and castles, which the state of Ireland then made necessary.
SIR THOMAS BROWNE was born at London, in the parish of St. Michael, in Cheapside, on the 19th of October, 1605. His father was a merchant, of an ancient family at Upton, in Cheshire. Of the name or family of his mother I find no account.
Of his childhood or youth there is little known, except that he lost his father very early; that he was, according to the common fate of orphans, defrauded by one of his guardians; and that he was placed for his education at the school of Winchester.
His mother, having taken § three thousand pounds as the third part of her husband's property, left her son, by consequence, six thousand, a large fortune for a man destined to learning at that time, when commerce had not yet filled the nation with nominal riches. But it happened to him, as to many others, to be made poor by opulence; for his mother soon married Sir Thomas Dutton, probably by the inducement of her fortune; and he was left to the rapacity of his guardian, deprived now of both his parents, and therefore helpless and unprotected.
He was removed in the beginning of the year 1623, from Winchester to Oxford, and entered a gentleman-commoner of Broadgate-Hall,
"Christian Morals," first printed in 1756.-H. + Life of Sir Thomas Browne, prefixed to the Antiquities of Norwich.
Whitefoot's character of Sir Thomas Browne, in a marginal note.
Life of Sir Thomas Browne.
He that has once prevailed on himself to break his connections of acquaintance, and begin a wandering life, very easily continues it. Freland had, at that time, very little to offer to the observation of a man of letters: he, therefore, passed † into France and Italy; made some stay at Montpellier and Padua, which were then the celebrated schools of physic; and returning home through Holland, procured himself to be created doctor of physic at Leyden.
When he began his travels, or when he concluded them, there is no certain account; nor do there remain any observations made by him in his passage through those countries which he visited. To consider, therefore, what pleasure or instruction might have been received from the remarks of a man so curious and diligent, would be voluntarily to indulge a painful reflection, and load the imagination with a wish, which, while it is formed, is known to be vain. It is, however, to be lamented, that those who are most capable of improving mankind, very frequently neglect to communicate their knowledge; either because it is more pleasing to gather ideas than to impart them, or because, to minds naturally great, few things appear of so much importance as to deserve the notice of the public.
About the year 1634, he is supposed to have
returned to London; and the next year to have written his celebrated treatise, called "Religio Medici,"-The religion of a physician, which he declares himself never to have intended for the Press, having composed it only for his own exercise and entertainment. It, indeed, contains many passages, which, relating merely to his own person, can be of no great importance to the public; but when it was written, it happened to him as to others, he was too much pleased with his performance, not to think that it might please others as much; he, therefore, communicated it to his friends, and receiving, I suppose, that exuberant applause with which every man repays the grant of perusing a manuscript, he was not very diligent to obstruct his own praise by recalling his papers, but suffered them to wander from hand to hand, till at last, without his own consent, they were, in 1642, given to a printer.
This has, perhaps, sometimes befallen others; The reciprocal civility of authors is one of the and this, I am willing to believe, did really hap- most risible scenes in the farce of life. Who pen to Dr. Browne: but there is surely some would not have thought, that these two lumireason to doubt the truth of the complaints so naries of their age had ceased to endeavour to frequently made of surreptitious editions. A grow bright by the obscuration of each other? song, or an epigram, may be easily printed yet the animadversions thus weak, thus precipiwithout the author's knowledge; because it tate, upon a book thus injured in the transcripmay be learned when it is repeated, or may be tion, quickly passed the press; and "Religio written out with very little trouble; but a long Medici" was more accurately published, with treatise, however elegant, is not often copied by an admonition prefixed" to those who have or mere zeal or curiosity, but may be worn out in shall peruse the observations upon a former corpassing from hand to hand, before it is multi-rupt copy;" in which there is a severe censure, plied by a transcript. It is easy to convey an not upon Digby, who was to be used with cereimperfect book, by a distant hand, to the press, mony, but upon the observator who had usurped and plead the circulation of a false copy as an his name; nor was this invective written by excuse for publishing the true, or to correct Dr. Browne, who was supposed to be satisfied what is found faulty or offensive, and charge with his opponent's apology; but by some offithe errors on the transcriber's depravations. cious friend, zealous for his honour, without his consent.
This is a stratagem, by which an author panting for fame, and yet afraid of seeming to challenge it, may at once gratify his vanity, and preserve the appearance of modesty; may enter the lists, and secure a retreat and this candour might suffer to pass undetected as an innocent fraud, but that indeed no fraud is innocent; for the confidence which makes the happiness of society is in some degree diminished by every man whose practice is at variance with his words.
turned his Judgment upon it, not in a letter, but a book; in which, though mingled with some positions fabulous and uncertain, there are acute remarks, just censures, and profound speculations; yet its principal claim to admiration is, that it was written in twenty-four hours, of which part was spent in procuring Browne's book, and part in reading it.
Of these animadversions, when they were yet not all printed, either officiousness or malice informed Dr. Browne; who wrote to Sir Kenelm with much softness and ceremony, declaring the unworthiness of his work to engage such notice, the intended privacy of the composition, and the corruptions of the impression: and received an answer equally genteel and respectful, containing high commendations of the piece, pompous professions of reverence, meek acknowledgments of inability, and anxious apologies for the hastiness of his remarks.
The "Religio Medici" was no sooner pubblished than it excited the attention of the public, by the novelty of paradoxes, the dignity of sentiment, the quick succession of images, the multitude of abstruse allusions, the subtlety of disquisition, and the strength of language.
What is much read will be much criticised. The Earl of Dorset recommended this book to the perusal of Sir Kenelm Digby, who re
Letter to Sir Kenclm Digby, prefixed to the "Religio Medici," fol. edit.
Browne has, indeed, in his own preface, endeavoured to secure himself from rigorous examination, by alleging, that "many things are delivered rhetorically, many expressions merely tropical, and therefore many things to be taken in a soft and flexible sense, and not to be called unto the rigid test of reason." The first glance upon his book will indeed discover examples of this liberty of thought and expression: "1 could be content (says he) to be nothing almost to eternity, if I might enjoy my Saviour at the last." He has little acquaintance with the acuteness of Browne, who suspects him of a serious opinion, that any thing can be "almost eternal," or that any time beginning and end ing is not infinitely less than infinite duration.
In this book he speaks much, and, in the opinion of Digby, too much of himself; but with such generality and conciseness as affords very
• Digby's Letter to Browne, prefixed to the "Religio Medici," fol. edit.