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principles of the modern system of political economy, is generally occupied in finding fault. But it is interesting and valuable, even from its very nature, even from the circumstance of its being a critique, by a disciple of the new school of political economy, on the labours of a statesman of the very highest natural talents, proceeding upon the principles of the old. It may be said, indeed, that we cannot now follow the author of this work through all the laborious investigations which he exhibits. This may be admitted; but when proper allowance has been made for this consideration, abundant matter will remain to which no such objection can be offered, and quite sufficient to satisfy the reader even in those particulars in which the representations of Mirabeau cannot now be examined. When the results at which he arrives are such as might, on general grounds, be expected, it seems unnecessary to hesitate about their propriety, or to deny him his conclusions.
The work of Mirabeau (Mirabeau on the Prussian Monarchy) embraces every topic that can excite your curiosity or need occupy your reflection with respect to Prussia or its monarch, its agriculture, its commerce, its military system, the efforts of the king on these subjects, and on its laws, its systems of education, and many others. Mirabeau, while criticising the labours of Frederic, naturally throws out his own opinions on all the important concerns that can interest a statesman; and as a study for a statesman and a political philosopher, I recommend it to your attention. You cannot expect to accede to the views of a man of licentious, daring mind like this, but you may consider his work as a study, as a lesson in political science. Many observations are made in these volumes respecting the nature and strength of the Prussian and Austrian monarchies, that might have taught some most useful lessons to our own ministers and to those of our allies at a subsequent period, during the late great revolutionary wars with France.
The first book of Mirabeau's work may at least be read, and the general conclusion or summary of the whole. The general impression from these two will be, that the work is the work of a statesman, and deserves the study of a statesman, and the student may then determine whether he will or
will not consult the intermediate volumes. I have drawn up a lecture on this work of Mirabeau, but omit it, for it would be tedious to some and unnecessary to others. The note book on the table may, however, be consulted.
But, to form a proper estimate of the character of Frederic and of this period of history, it is necessary that the student should acquaint himself with the situation and merits of his great political opponent, Maria Theresa. It is in this manner only that the real odiousness of Frederic can be at all understood ; and a more disgusting picture of what is called the ambition of princes cannot be easily pointed out than was exhibited in the conduct of this celebrated monarch ; at a moment, too, when he had just begun to reign himself; when he was himself only about the age of thirty, and when the queen was young, in the full possession of every female attraction, and summoned, amidst all the inexperience of three-and-twenty, without a counsellor of ability near her, to undertake the administration of the dominions of the house of Austria.
A A very sufficient idea may be formed of this very interesting part of the general subject by a reference to the work of Mr. Coxe. The subject may be considered as opening in the sixteenth chapter, about the close of the life of the emperor Charles VI., the father of Maria Theresa. An account is given of the situation of the European powers ; and in the seventeenth, of the young King of Prussia, and of his father, Frederic William, with the death of the emperor. In the eighteenth chapter, Maria Theresa ascends the throne of her ancestors; possessed, it seems, of a commanding figure (I quote the words of Mr. Coxe from different paragraphs), great beauty, animation, and sweetness of countenance, a pleasing tone of voice, fascinating manners, and uniting every feminine grace with a strength of understanding and an intrepidity above her sex. But her treasury contained only one hundred thousand florins, and these claimed by the empress dowager; her army, exclusive of the troops in Italy and the Low Countries, did not amount to thirty thousand effective men; a scarcity of provisions and great discontent existed in the capital ; rumours were circulated that the government was dissolved, that the Elector of Brunswick was hourly expected to take possession of the Austrian territories; apprehensions were entertained of the distant provinces; that the Hungarians, supported by the Turks, might revive the elective monarchy; different claimants on the Austrian succession were expected to arise ; besides, the Elector of Bavaria, the Elector of Cologne, and the Elector Palatine, were evidently hostile; the ministers themselves, while the queen was herself without experience or knowledge of business, were timorous, desponding, irresolute, or worn out with age. To these ministers, says Mr. Robinson, in his dispatches to the English court, the Turks seemed already in Hungary, the Hungarians in arms, the Saxons to be in Bohemia, the Bavarians at the gates of Vienna, and France was considered as the soul of the whole. The Elector of Bavaria, indeed, did not conceal his claims to the kingdom of Bohemia and the Austrian dominions; and, finally, while the queen had scarcely taken possession of her throne, a new claimant appeared in the person of Frederic of Prussia, who acted with such consummate address and secrecy (as it is called by the historian), i, e. with such unprincipled hypocrisy and cunning, that his designs were scarcely even suspected, when his troops entered the Austrian dominions.
Silesia was the province which be resolved, in the present helpless situation of the young queen, to wrest from the house of Austria. He revived some antiquated claims on parts of that duchy. The subject is discussed in different writers, and in the notes of Coxe. The ancestors of Maria Theresa had not behaved handsomely to the ancestors of Frederic, and the young queen was now to become a lesson to all princes and states of the real wisdom that always belongs to the honourable and scrupulous performance of all public engagements. Little or nothing, however, can be urged in favour of Frederic. Prescription must be allowed at length to justify possession in cases not very flagrant. The world cannot be perpetually disturbed by the squabbles and collisions of its rulers ; and the justice of his cause was indeed, as is evident from all the circumstances of the case, and his own writings, the last and the least of all the many futile reasons which he alleged for the invasion of the possessions of Maria Theresa, the heiress of the Austrian dominions, young, beautiful, and unoffending, but inexperienced and unprotected.
The common robber has sometimes the excuse of want; banditti, in a disorderly country, may pillage, and, when resisted, murder; but the crimes of men, even atrocious as these, are confined at least to a contracted space, and their consequences extend not beyond a limited period. It was not so with Frederic. The outrages of his ambition were to be followed up by an immediate war, He could never suppose that, even if he succeeded in getting possession of Silesia, the house of Austria could ever forget the insult and the injury that had thus been received; he could never suppose, though Maria Theresa might have no protection from his cruelty and injustice, that this illustrious house would never again have the power, in some way or other, to avenge their wrongs. One war, therefore, even if successful, was not to be the only consequence; succeeding wars were to be expected; long and inveterate jealousy and hatred were to follow; and he and his subjects were, for a long succession of years, to be put to the necessity of defending, by unnatural exertions, what had been acquired (if acquired) by his own unprincipled ferocity. Such were the consequences that were fairly to be expected: --what, in fact, took place?
The seizure of this province of Silesia was first supported by a war, then by a revival of it, then by the dreadful seven years' war. Near a million of men perished on the one side and on the other.
Every measure and movement of the king's administration Aowed as a direct consequence from this original aggression ; his military system, the necessity of rendering his kingdom one of the first-rate powers of Europe, and in short all the long train of his faults, his tyrannies, and his crimes.
We will cast a momentary glance on the opening scenes of this contest between the two houses.
As a preparatory step to his invasion of Silesia, the king sent a message to the Austrian court. “I am come,” said the Prussian envoy to the husband of Maria Theresa, “ with safety for the house of Austria in one hand, and the imperial crown for your royal highness in the other. The troops and money of my master are at the service of the queen, and cannot fail of being acceptable at a time when she is in want of both ; when she can only depend on so considerable a prince as the King of Prussia, and his allies, the maritime powers and Russia. As the king, my master, from the situation of his dominions, will be exposed to great danger from this alliance with the Queen of Hungary, it is hoped that, as an indemnification, the queen will not offer him less than the whole duchy of Silesia.”
“Nobody,” he added, “is more firm in his resolutions than the King of Prussia ; he must and will enter Silesia ; once entered, he must and will proceed; and if not secured by the immediate cession of that province, his troops and money will be offered to the electors of Saxony and Bavaria.”
Such were the king's notifications to Maria Theresa.
Soon after, in a letter to the same Duke of Lorrain, the husband of Maria Theresa, “My heart,” says Frederic (for he wrote as if he conceived he had one), “My heart,” says Frederic, “has no share in the mischief which my hand is doing to your court."
The feelings of the young queen may be easily imagined, powerful in the qualities of her understanding, with all the high sensibilities, which are often united to a commanding mind, and educated in all the lofty notions which have so niformly characterized her illustrious house. She resisted; ; t her arms proved in the event unsuccessful. She was
prepared, and even if she had been, the combination was wide and powerful against her. According to the plan of nemies, more particularly of France (her greatest enemy), mia and Upper Austria, spite of all her efforts, were to be assigned to the Elector of Bavaria ; Moravia and Silesia to the Elector of Saxony ; Lower Silesia and 'ntry of Glatz to the King of Prussia; Austria and
!y to Spain ; and some compensation to be allotted ..c King of Sardinia. It was, therefore, at last necessary to detach the King of Prussia from the general combination by some important sacrifice. The sufferings, the agonies of the poor queen were extreme. Lord Hyndfort, on the part of England as mediating power, prevailed on the helpless Maria Theresa to abate something of her lofty spirit, and make some offers to