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rise out of the chaos. The Directory had succeeded the overthrow of Robespierre and his Jacobin friends; and it was preparing the way for its own dissolution, and the accession of the Consulate, with the Corsican at its head. Nor had the moral volcano, which had levelled every ancient institution of France in the dust—just as the tremendous hurricane in the natural world, prostrates forests, overturns houses, and spreads desolation everywhere—been confined, in its ravages, to the limits of that beautiful, but then unhappy country. Its effects were felt in all the civilized world, especially in the European portion of it. Thrones which had endured a thousand years, trembled on their bases, and fear fell upon all the venerable adjuncts by which they had been so long propped up. In no country was there more alarm among sensible and far-seeing men, than in Germany: in none was there greater occasion for it. From immemorial time—at least from the downfall of the Roman empire—that country had been the prey of all sorts of despotism, from that of the poorest baron and the humblest priest, up through the double lines of State and Church, to the throne of the Emperor and the chair of the Fisherman. Yet, strange as it may seem to men of our day, the trembling despotisms of that country—wholly insensible of their own weakness, and ignorant of the nation with which they had to do—combined their forces, for the purpose of reducing France to her pristine condition. Large armies. were marched to the Rhine, there to meet inglorious defeat, and thence to be driven back, overwhelmed with shame, to the lands whence they came. Nor is it ... that they suffered such disasters. The enemy with whom they went to contend, was a young giant, awaking up in all his energy, and intoxicated with the enthusiasm of newly-gotten freedom. The sudden acquisition on the part of the masses of liberty, or what was deemed to be such, had infused a new fife throughout the entire nation. Old things had passed away, and all things had become new—alas ! not always in the best sense. And when the old dynasties undertook to put down this most astonishing movement which the world has ever seen,
the Allons ! and the Marchons ! of the Marseillaise Hymn sent young France in overwhelming force into Flanders, to the Rhine, to the Jura, to the Alps. No hostile foot was allowed to tread the soil of France many days. The panic-stricken foe was pursued even into the marshes of Holland, nor found, in its dykes and its canals, the safety which it sought. Not only did the blue-eyed Germans retreat with precipitation back to the eastern bank of the Rhine, but were glad to surrender the western, and with it, four millions of inhabitants, to the Republic of Prance. The Austrians were chased out of Switzerland, and were compelled to retire altogether from their ill-gotten possessions in Italy | Such were the achievements of a mighty nation, when freedom had infused a new life throughout all the classes of its population. And what if liberty was perverted to licentiousness, and new despots mounted to the deserted seats whence the old had so recently been hurled ? Still the people possessed the emblems and some of the substantial fruits of freedom. Old monopolies were gone. The enormous landed possessions of the church, of the nobility, and of the crown, had been, for the most part, confiscated, and a new order of things, so far as the agricultural population was concerned, had commenced. And if despotism had again taken the place of liberty, even while wearing its garb, it was some consolation to the masses, that the despots were from among themselves, and not of an ancient, privileged, and longdetested caste. And then, if it was a desF. it was a glorious one, which to renchmen is a great deal. What if it gave them chains at home? it gave them consideration and glory abroad. Still more, if it was a despotism, it was one of their own making; and we all know that men will submit with much more contentment and better grace, to burthens of which they themselves are the authors, than to those which others impose on them. But let us return from this digression—a digression, however, needed to illustrate the subject—to the state of Germany at the epoch of the birth of Frederick William IV. Two great military governments ruled the Germanic and Germano-Slavonic races—the Austrian and Prussian Both had attained to an acmé of hauteur, at once insupportable and ridiculous, on account of their achievements in arms. But the grounds of this insolent bearing were not equal. Austria had for a long period been distinguished for her warlike propensities and illustrious deeds. She had met the Turks in a hundred battles, and, aided by Poland, had been the bulwark of Christendom against the Moslems. She had often measured her strength with the Gallic race, and not without success. She had, therefore, something like an ancient greatness in military affairs, and her renown was world-wide extended. As to Prussia, she was a parcenu among the great powers, not having, in fact, completed a century of national existence.* She had been singularly fortunate in the main, in her rulers; no royal house in Europe having, from the first, produced more great men than that of Brandenburg. But Prussia is, for #. most part, a poor country, and originally its extent was very limited. Its position, too, is one of essential and innate weakness. But Frederick the Great, whose equal in military talent has seldom been seen, either in ancient-or modern times, had raised her up from the condition of a third or fourth-rate power, to a place in the very first rank. In his Seven Years' War, he resisted, successfully, Russia, Austria, France, Poland and Sweden, together with several of the smaller powers of Germany. Indeed, at
* The national existence of Prussia, dates from January, 1701, when Frederick III., Duke of Brandenburg, assumed the title of King of Prussia, and the name of Frederick I. of that kingdom.
* Frederick William—the Great Elector, as he is commonly called—was the real founder of the Prussian kingdom. He came to the ducal throne of Brandenburg in 1640, and reigned more than forty years. He was in every sense a great man, and a decided Protestant. He invited the persecuted Huguenots, of France to his dominions, and thousands flocked thither, carrying with them their industry—not to say their riches—as well as their piety. He was the father of the first King of Prussia, referred to in the preceding note.
At the commencement, Prussia was a very small kingdom. Even when Frederick if (commonly called Frederick the Great) ascended the throne in 1740, Prussia was not larger in extent than the State of Pennsylvania, and its population was about three millions! He left it greatly enlarged and quite powerful. At present, Prussia exceeds 120,000 square miles, and has about fifteen millions of inhabitants. Its disjointed state, as well as its natural position, is a great obstacle in the way of its being a very strong country. . For its defence it must emphatically depend, under God, on the wisdom and valor of its inhabitants.
one time, it seemed as if he should be com pelled to stand against all continental Eu rope. And what a spectacle did he pre sent At one moment, we see him beating the Russians on the Oder, and driving them back towards Poland ; anon he is fighting the Austrians amid the mountains of Silesia, or attacking and battering down the battlements of Prague ! At one while, all seems to be lost The enemy takes possession of his blazing capital, whilst he flies with his shattered legions to the banks of the Elbe. But soon victory perches again on his standards, and “Old Fritz" is in possession of his sandy, pineproducing realm. Nothing could daunt him. He might be beaten, but conquered, never. His mind was as active as his body, and his right hand wielded the goosequill as readily as the sword. For him to write “two hundred verses” on the eve of a great battle, was almost an ordinary night's work o That such a consummate general, the monarch of the nation, should be surrounded with able commanders, is no way astonishing. Himself sharing in all the fatigues aud exposures of the camp—with as much patience drilling a company of grenadiers, on foot, in the midst of a drenching rain, as he marshalled a hundred regiments on a Champ de Mars—it was inevitable that his spirit should be imparted to the officers around him, be they princes of the blood, nobles of high birth, or plebeians from the lowest ranks. The same enthusiasm pervaded the non-commissioned officers and common soldiers. And at his death he left Prussia the most distinguished nation in Europe for military prowess. He left, too, an able corps of great commanders, whom his own genius and example had trained up. And Prussian tactics were adopted, as the French are now, by all the civilized world, and the plans of her campaigns and of her battles were studied, as master-pieces, by cadets and all others who sought distinction in military life. In the year 1786, died Frederick the Great, and with him the military glory of Prussia went down to the tomb, and remained there for a quarter of a century. Frederick William II. succeeded to the throne of his illustrious uncle, and ingloriously reigned till the year 1797. Neither the nation nor the world had very elevated
expectations of his distinguishing himself. Itaugured anything else than greatness,that “Old Fritz” had driven him in his younger years from the army, telling him to go home and take care of his children | And most certainly and amply did his life and actions establish the correctness of the great warrior's opinion. The best thing that can be said of his reign is, that it was one of peace. But it was one of wasteful extravagance and mal-administration. A large army was maintained in idleness, corrupting, by its relaxed discipline and dissolute manners, the moral atmosphere, far and wide, wherever any portion of it was stationed. Nothing could exceed the pride and audaciousness of the officers, especially those of the lower grades. Every one thought himself the heir of all the military capacity and glory of the “Great Frederick.” He who had served with the renowned Captain, in whatever rank, deemed himself invincible ! And when, in the early part of the French Revolution, the Prussian troops met with some pretty serious defeats (though they i. some victories) on the Rhine, their disasters seem not to have opened their eyes to the possibility, either that they had lost any of the prowess which they had acquired under Frederick the Great, or that their enemies had made any advances upon the tactics and the discipline of a by-gone generation. Nothing of the sort seems to have entered their heads. They heard, indeed, with some o: of astonishment, of the victories of the French in Flanders, on the Rhine, under their Republican generals, Dumouriez, Jourdan, Bernadotte, Moreau, and others, and especially those of Napoleon in the north of Italy. But they attributed them to the inferiority of their antagonists. Even the victories of Marengo and of Austerlitz, at later epochs, scarcely agitated their self. complacency, or made them believe it possible that similar reverses mightawait them in their turn. “They have beaten the Austrians, but they have not met the Prussians !” “Let Prussia,” said they, “but once enter the lists with France, and the superiority of her high-born officers, of the school of Frederick the Great, over the French bourgeois troops, will soon appear.” Nothing could exceed the arrogance of the Prussian officers, save their contempt for the French. And yet, to the eye of
the reflecting, nothing could be more discouraging. The officers who had served under the great Frederick, were mostly old and infirm men: some were afflicted with the gout, and others were unfit for service from other causes. Among the younger officers, infidelity and immorality extensively prevailed, as, alas ! too generally in the nation at large. The common soldiers were ignorant, and treated too much like machines, or like beasts. There was no morale among either officers or men. Among the former the prestige of the great Frederick and his victories, was almost the only stimulus that was effective to wake up their courage. Among the latter, there was little enthusiasm in behalf of any cause. A blind, unreasoning obedience was all that was expected of either officers or soldiers. Count Henkel says, in his “Memoirs,” that when Frederick William II. died, the colonel of the regiment to which he belonged assembled his men, and made them this remarkable speech:—
“His Majesty Frederick William II. has been pleased to die. We have therefore to swear allegiance to a new king. What his name will be, whether Frederick William, or Frederick, we cannot exactly tell; but that does not signify. Herr Gerichtschreiber, read the oath aloud.”
In the year 1797, Frederick William III. ascended a throne environed by many trials. Napoleon was conquering everything be. fore him in the north of Italy, and preparing to enact the part of another Alexander of Macedon. The King was still young. Conscious of the many difficulties which beset his path, and distrustful of his own capacity to meet the storm, which he soon saw was approaching, he was disposed to act with a caution that bordered on timidity. But he was surrounded by rash counsellors, who clamored for war with France. War with France was more and more earnestly demanded by a large party every year. At the head of this party was the King's cousin, Louis Ferdinand, a man of great influence among the younger officers, and of vast popularity with the people.
At length, after years of very complex, and it must be confessed, of very doubtful diplomatic manoeuvring, in which her character for wisdom, not to say justice, suffered greatly, Prussia declared war against France. Soon a vast army was in motion on the southern borders of her kingdom, under the command of the old Duke of Brunswick, to meet the enemy. Great was the vaunting of the officers and
courtiers. A major boasted “that he
would make that scoundrel, Bonaparte, his groom.” Every one, save the serious and reflecting men who had long remarked and deplored the degeneracy of the times, was sanguine of success. Alas! in this, as in too many other instances, achievement did not equal promise. The declaration of war was made on the 6th day of October, 1806; on the 14th, Bonaparte, with his irresistible forces, scattered the Prussians, as the chaff is driven by the wind, on the plains of Jena. On that fatal day perished both the prestige of the name of the great Frederick, and their wretched self-delusion. In a few days Napoleon was at their capital, occupying, if not revelling in, the deserted palaces of Frederick William III. The forces of the Prince of Ponte Corvo, (Bernadotte,) Soult and Murat drove a large Prussian army westward to Lübeck, and compelled them to lay down their arms, on the other side of that city, near the Danish frontier. Whilst Bonaparte, with the main body of his army, pursued the flying forces of the King eastward into Poland and Eastern Prussia, where the battles of Pultusk, Ostrolenka, Eylau, and Friedland, led to the treaty of Tilsit, and the utter prostration—not to say annihilation—of the Prussian kingdom. The foot of the conqueror was even on the neck of the fallen and wretched foe. Six long years of disgrace, distress, and deep humiliation, ensued. The sufferings which Prussia endured—the insults heaped upon the men, and the cruel injuries done to the women—have never been fully revealed to the world.” But these years of
affliction were profitable in the way of discipline. They led the good to seek help where only it could be found, in God. The excellent King shared deeply in this conviction. A happy reaction took place ; the plague of infidelity and irreligion was stayed; and a regenerating process commenced, affecting alike the court, the army and the nation. A deep sense of disgrace, combined with the indignation which injustice and oppression engendered, inflamed every heart, from the monarch on the throne, to the humblest peasant. The smothered fires gained strength year, by year, until, when the proper time had come—the fatal year, to Napoleon, of 1813 —it burst forth like a volcano, and overwhelming the French, drove them out of Germany. To say that Prussia lost everything at Jena, would be to utter what all the world has said these forty years past. To say that that defeat saved her, (by leading her in what was probably the only practicable way of regeneration,) is a paradoxin which there is a pregnant meaning. Another paradox has also been uttered respecting that same disastrous battle, namely, that Frederick the Great (by the blind and vain reliance of the Prussians on his name) was the cause of it. Frederick William IV. was eleven years old when the battle of Jena was fought and his country ruined; and he was eighteen when the dreadful battle of Leipsic was fought, and the day of deliverance was come for down-trodden Prussia. And terribly was she avenged of her great enemy there, as well as at many other W. and among them the plains of aterloo. Awaking from long years of oppression and anguish, she drove that enemy from her borders, nor ceased from the pursuit, until she saw him humbled in the dust. What a lesson of warning to the oppressor, and of hope to the oppressed, does her history teach In the month of May, 1840, died Frederick William III. at his palace in Berlin. The first half of his reign was eminently
* within the last few years many works, relating to this period of Prussia's humiliation, have appeared in Germany, very few of which are known, even by title, to our American public. Many of these works are in the shape of “Memoirs” and “Records,” and are more or less personal. They contain, however, very many facts of a national character, and they are o interesting as giving an insight into the state of things during that roomy period. They contain details of the infanuous conduct of the French officers and soldiers, when are truly appalling. It is probable, however, that the rapacity and violence of the French did not much exceed those of the Prussians themselves in
their former wars with Austria, Poland, Russia
sor Steffeus, Ernest Moritz Arndt, Johannes Gustavus Droysen, Chamisso, and Varmhogen Von Ense—the last named of which has been translated into English, by Sir Alexander Duff Gordon, and was ...' in London, in 2 vols. 8vo., last year. This is a work full of interesting facts. The Was ich erlebee of Professor Stefleus is even more interesting: it is quite voluminous, however, and has not been translated into English, so far as we know. Almost all these works have appeared withiu the last seven years.
disastrous in many respects, but the last fifteen years were peaceful, prosperous. and in the main happy. Gradually the kingdom recruited its resources and its energies; its population has steadily increased; and its proper influence in the European family of nations has been recovered. The reign of the late King, however gloomy the times during the former portion of it, secured many blessings to the people. A number of important ameliorations in the administration of its affairs were effected. It is indebted to that monarch for the existence of two of its best universities—those of Berlin and Bonn"—and for the renovation of the rest. Above all, it owes to his wisdom and fostering care, both the existence and the high degree of perfection of its admirable School System, which has secured the admiration and the imitation of all the German States, France, and several other countries. It is true, that the nation were not well satisfied in regard to several subjects. In the first place, the King had promised, in 1815, to give his people a Constitution adapted to the demands of the age. Instead of this, he only restored provincial assemblies to those of the eight provinces of the realm which formerly had them, and created them in those which never had them. That these provincial assemblies, which are entirely consultative bodies, have been of use in directing the government, and in preparing the way for a constitutional government for the entire kingdom, cannot be denied; but they were far from fulfilling the expectations excited by the royal promise. In the next place, the government sympathized entirely too much with Austria and Russia, in their abhorrence of everything like political agitation. In consequence of this, many young men of the universities, as well as other suspected persons, were made to undergo severe punishments in the shape of imprisonment, fines, banishment, &c., which were alike excessive, unjust, and impolitic. Again, the army was kept on a footing entirely too large for a nation not abounding in wealth, and having scarcely 14,000,000
*The University of Berlin was founded in 1809; that of Bonn in 1818.