Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

rors of her situation, which are heightened by national animosity, and the mortal hatred that reciprocal injuries have excited between the Ruffians and Poles.1

It is the interest of all the potent states, that surround thi« large and once great country, never to suffer it to emerge out of its present wretched situation. The officious neighbours have too great a regard for its constitution, to admit the natural physicians to prescribe any thing for its benefit. Its original • misfortune was the pride and tyranny of the nobles, which prevented them for several ages, while it wa9 in their power, from establishing a happy form of government. If this had been done, they might have been one of the greatest nations in Europe ; they are now the most miserable, and little less than a miracle can ever afford another opportunity of making trial of their virtue.

The success of the Ruffians against the Turks, and the apparent indifference of the other neighbour-. ing powers, must cut off every ihadow of hope from the confederates. By this means it is probable that the people may enjoy some quiet, if not security. What Would be deemed the greatest misfortune to all oth^r nations, seems1' to be the greatest happiness that could befal this; to hecome a province to some neigbouring power, would at present be a bleffing indeed. This, in the natural course of things, must boner or later happen; add though it should, be td the most despotic of them, which probably will be the case, still it would b - a happy exchange. The Ruffians now appoint a king of ©land as they do a duke of Cour

land, and have just as much right to do one as the other. Can the wretched name of king, the empty title of republic, or the ridiculous pageantry of a court, be thought equivalent to the calamities to which the miserable Poles are every day subject?

The emperor of Germany, tho' deeply interested in its consequences, has not interfered in the war. His conduct however seems mysterious. His armies are large, complete, and ready for • action; camps are frequenly formed in Bohemia and Hungary; the magazines are kept stored, and great Bodies of troops lie upon the frontiers. The present situation of the war, being upon the Danube, brings it home to the Austrian dominions* Many occasions will necessarily follow of communication and inter-, ference, and opportunities must be given of shewing favour or dislike. A powerful neighbour, supported by great military force, and not afraid of either of the warring parg ties, is almost as troublesome to them, when his territories lie intermingled' with' those in contention, as they are ruinous and de« structive to a weak and defenceless state in the fame situation. Chance, heat, or danger, necessa* rily occasion a violation of territory, and irregular troops will, commit excesses in the most friendly country; all which produce altercations, and often something worse.

• Nothing could be more opposite to the interest of the house of Austria, nor perhaps so dangerous to its security, as that Russia should extend its power on the fide of Turky. Its obtaining any footing near the Danube, would be a cireamstance of the most alarming nature. It is not then to be supposed, that an active youthful prince, at the he.'.d of great armies, and possessed of. great resources, would look tamely on, at so dangerous and unwelcome an intrusion. It is rather to be imagined, that, prepared as he is for ill consequences, he views attentively the course of the war, and waits till the temper of the hostile powers will admit of his effectually employing his mediation for a peace.

The king of Prussia observes the fame reserve in this respect, that the emperor has done. He is also armed, and equally guarded against all events. It is possible, thrtt as these princes seem now to be upon a very friendly footing, this object may appear to them both in the fame point of view. This would certainly be their interest; however their connections, their alliances, and their mutual jealousies, may prevent it.

The king has however upon all occasions condemned the conduct of the Polish confederates, and severely reprehended, and sometimes chastized, some parties of them that made accidental incursions upon his territories. In other respects this prince pays his usual attention to the good of his subjects, and to the increasing of the commerce in his dominioQs; and among other regulations for the ease and conveniency of the merchants, has established a bank and lombard at Embden, and a particular bank at Berlin, besides the general one already there.

The king of Denmark proceeds in the fame good dispositions to his people, and the fame patriotic

intentions, that we have before had so much pleasure in taking notice of. TJie time he spent in his tour to other countries, he shews was wisely laid out for the good of his own. He is now accordingly copying in his own dominions, those institutions whose utility more immediately struck him when he was abroad. Among other instances of this nature he has established a Royal Society of Agriculture, and to honour and encourage it has declared himself its protector. This society, which includes arts as well as agriculture, the king has endo vved with a considerable sum, which is to be disposed of in prizes, for the encouragement of experiments in agriculture, and of ingenious artificers. His majesty being also struck at the sight of the royal foundation at Chelsea, he has given direction for the building an hospital, for the reception of superannuated soldiers; and adds to this munificence, by forming an establishment for soldiers widows and children. The fame humanity has induced him to order two hospitals, one at Copenhagen, and the other ac Bergen, to be founded for the reception of disabled seamen.

We have before taken notice os the attention the king of Denmark shewed in the beginning of his reign,' to the oppressions which the peasants suffered; as well as the pains he had taken, and the example he had set, to free them from their servitude He has this year passed an ordinance which has given the most universal satisfaction, and which regards the sharing their estates and effects among their children. By this decree, the eldest child, male or female, shall,

[B 4] upon upon the decase of its parents, be entitled to one half, and no more, of their effects and possessions; and the other moiety is to be divided equally among the rest of the children, whether male or female; but if there be but two children, then the estate and effects of the deceased are to be equally shared.

These numerous regulations and establishments have not diverted his attention from commerce; a subject which mankind at length begin to understand, and w:iich seems now to occupy the thoughts of almost every civilized nation. Upon this principle he has declared Glucktat, a strong town situated near the mouth of the river Elbe, a free port, and has abolished all duties on vessels that may pass the winter there, as well as on merchandize, whether brought to the place, or only passing through. How much more liberal as well as politic are these sentiments than thole of his ancestor, who attempted to make all ships that passed up or dovvn the river, to pay a toll!

In respect to foreign affairs, the court of Copenhagen seems intimately connected with that of Petersburg. In consequence of this ■connection, upon some extraordi-^ nary appearances in Sweden, and . the apparent prevalence of the French party there, the king fitted but ea.lv in the season, a squadron of eight men ps war of the line, and two frigates. This fleet cpntinued armed and ready for service the wl.iolf summer, and probably "had a great effect up n the mea'sures pursued in that country.

The extraordinary assembly of the states in Sweden, was not attended with the consequences,

which it is probably the opposite parties feared or noped. No change has been made in the form of government, nor has the king's power been enlarged. He is however, emancipated out of the hands of ai. arbitrary senate, who were determined to thwart him in every, instance, and whose insolen-e he experienced upon every occasion. The French interest, which had a principal si are in calling the diet, has fully succeeded in establifliing its own influence, which now predominates, , and will probably continue to do so, in, the councils of that kingdom.

Great heats arose between the king and the senate, about the; place to be appointed for the assent; bling of the states. The king wished and proposed Stockholm j but the senate appointed Norkioping for the place os meeting. It is true that this place had been appointed, at the breaking up of the last diet, for their next meeting; but this agreement was not at all binding on the king and senate, who might appoint anyother place that was more convenient. The king shewed the great inconveniences that would attend meeting at this town, which is above, ninety miles from Stockhelm That the senate, who are obliged by their duty to "fit in Stockholm, are obliged by the same duty to compose a part of the diet, and that to fulfil both at once, would be to effect an impossibility. Nothing could however conquer the obstinacy of the senate, who seemed mechanically to oppose the king in every thing.' Without perhaps considering, that seasonable and rational concession, would better answer the purposes

of.

of the Ruffian and English interest, which they had been supposed to espouse; and would give fewer, and less plausible pretences to their enemies. They, however, absolutely refused a compliance with the king's request, and contended, that the senate should be divided, one part of it to remain in Stockholm, and the other tp attend the diet.

The king upon this delivered a declaration to the senate, which he got printed and published; in which he shewed that this proposed division of it, was not only contrary to ,the fundamental laws of the kingdom, but in itself impossible; that the senate ought to have the king at the head of it: that he could not be at two places at the fame time: and, therefore, that part of the senate, where he did not preside, could not be authorized to transact any business of the state. He farther declared, that he could not but consider this step as an alteration of the constitution of the state; as an infringement of the royal prerogative; and as an usurped authority, which never was, nor never could be acknowledged, while the regal power, and that of the states, remained entire.

. , The diet was at

. V 9 length opened at Norkioping. The first business the states went upon, was the conduct of the senate. The secret committee brought 24. articles of accusation against all the senators but two, and allowed them but forty-eight hours to prepare for their defence. Nothing could withstand this torrent; they were all, except those X wo, degraded from their seats in the, senate, declared unworthy the

confidence of the st.ttes, and condemned to p'y the extraordinary expences that attended their meeting at Norkioping. The principal charges against them w >re, their opposing the convocation of the states; their making Norkioping the place of meeting in spite of the king; and a declaration they had made to the different colleges, in the preceding December, that the kingdom might be governed by the senate without the king, and their afterwards upholding the fame principle in separating the senate.

In the mean time, some motions that were made in the disposition of the troops, and feme measures that were taken for completing the regiments, having alarmed the neighbouring powers of Russia and Denmark, the king caused a declaration to be delivered to all the foreign ministers, in which he to- .» .tally disclaimed the small- May °" est intention of disturbing the public tranquillity. He declares that the interior affairs of the kingdom were the sole motive for convoking the states; and that from the harmony that prevailed in their deliberations, he did not doubt but all their resolutions would concur with his own patriotic views. He concludes by declaring, that if any thing should happen to disturb the tranquillity of the north, he never would have any occasion to reproach himself with having been in the least the cause of it.

Notwithstanding the good humour of the asiemb'y, the court failed in the grand point for which it was convoked. Several new ordinances were proposed, which would have made a great, if not a total alteration in the present

system

system os government. These were debated a long time with great heat and violence; at length the question was put, " Whether it be ■' proper to make any innovations "in the constitution of the king•' dom?" which was carried in the negative in the order of the nobles, es it had been before in those of the burghers'and peasants. A resolution then passed, "That no *' propositions shall be made any "more in this diqt, tending to *' alterations or amendments of the •' fundamental laws." The court however shewed great strength upon this occasion; the majority against their interest in the order of nobles, upon the first question, being only twenty-six; the whole numbers were, 457 to 431.

Though the dietcontinued sitting the remainder of the year, nothing very material was done. The secret committee renewed the treaty of subsidy with France; and that power is to pay up the arrears of the old one, which are very considerable. An augmentation of the troops has since taken place; but if is certain that Sweden is in no' condition to enter into a war with Russia. The former gave up the sword, when it gave up Livonia. That province was the granary that fed its people; it still does so by permission of the Ruffians: in such a situation, a war must be carried on against difficulties, that neither bravery nor stcill can surmount. Such an event would however at present be very troublesome to Russia,

The friendly part which England has taken, (not without some considerable risque to the security of her own commerce) in receiving and assisting the Russian fleet, bo;h

at home and in the Mediterranean* does honour to her faith as an AL/. It is certain that Russia is the only power that can at present balance the protestant scale, against the preponderating weight of the two great houses of Bdurbon and Austria; to which may now be added Sweden, and possibly Portugal. The maritime powers in particular act right, in cultivating and cementing the closest union with Russia.

With regard to Holland, her affairs are now in so happy a situation, as to call but for a very flight account. The Prince Stadtholder, not only enjoys the love of the people in a very high degree, but seems equally possest of the confidence of the states. Whether it is to be atnibuted to the happy genius of the house of Orange, or to whatever other cause, it is cer*. tain that public affairs are conducted with new order and vigour in the united provinces. An augmentation, has been made in their troops, and dispositions have for some time been making, towards putting their marine upon a respectable footing.

, France has succeeded in its design upon Corsica ;'that iiland now makes a part of its domain. All Europe were silent witnesses to a direct breach of a treaty to which the principal powers in it were parties; and to the ruin of a brave people, because they did not think themselves the property of their invaders. Happily for mankind, neiter the state of the finances of France, nor the weight of its national credit, are at present encouraging to an immediate attempt of the same nature, upon any other of its neighbours. The hjte suc

cest

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »