Imatges de pÓgina
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immediate observation Maria Theresa had chiefly to act her forty years' part. Like Elizabeth's courtier Lord Hunsdon, nati

sunt ex salice, non ex quercu.' Good temper, yieldingness, a habit of bowing to adverse fortune and taking defeat and oppression with a kind of simple resignation, have always characterised them among the nations of Europe. During the endless reverses of the Silesian and Seven Years' Wars, Empress, army, and citizens seemed to vie with each other in this half-comic submission to destiny, and mutual forgiveness of faults and weaknesses, as Sganarelle and Pantaloon take their thrashings on the theatre. Witness the trait which tickled Horace Walpole's fancy so much that he perpetually quotes it, in Count Neipperg's despatch on the defeat at Mollwitz: Je suis faché de .dire à S.M. que son armée a été battue, et tout par la faute de

son serviteur, Neipperg.' Charles of Lorraine, — the loser of battles, der Schlachtverlierer, as he is styled, was never punished for his many sins in this line, except by the occasional pasquinades of the very gentle wits of Vienna. These fell also to the lot of Daun, the Austrian Fabius, who now and then won a battle, but invariably went to sleep in his quarters for some months afterwards. When his wife drove to court after one of these feats, she was saluted in the street with an universal shower of nightcaps. As for the Prussians, they mocked at their Southern rivals, even in occasional defeat, as the Athenians did at the Boeotians. When General Haddick took Berlin, he despatched to his gracious sovereign two dozen pair of Berlin gloves, stamped with the city arms, by way of spolia opima, but he forgot to send a file of his grenadiers to superintend the packing: when the parcel was opened at Vienna, the gloves proved all left-handed!

Maria Theresa was doubtless proud, as became a descendant of so many Cæsars; but it can hardly be said that pride formed a substantial element in her character; what passed for such in public estimation of her, was rather love of power and extreme jealousy of her authority. Such pride as she possessed easily yielded to any suggestion of policy. In her anxiety to found the French alliance, she demeaned herself so far as to address Madame de Pompadour under her own hand as Madame, ma • chère soeur et cousine.' The favourite addressed her playfully in answer as chère reine.' When her husband, the jovial Franz, read the letter, he threw himself on two chairs and laughed till they cracked under his weight. What is there to * laugh at ?' she quietly asked. “I have written to Farinelli • before now.'

Not only Maria Theresa's pride, but her devotion - a far stronger principle of action - was singularly subordinate to her engrossing political zeal and her masculine understanding. Devout she was even to excess; her piety degenerating into a world of scrupulous observance and idle questions of conscientious casuistry. Her bigotry made her commit many foolish actions, and not a few unjust ones; but it scarcely exercised any perceptible influence on the general destinies of the empire under her sway. Dearly as she loved her spiritual teachers, she kept the priestly Æolus in general pretty closely confined to his natural province of court and chamber influence illa se jactet in aula excluding him from the wider region of politics. And therefore the latest political champion of Ultramontanism, Count Montalembert, regards her reign as a period of persecution to the Church. She, the most pious sovereign in Europe, was the chief leader in the overthrow of the Jesuits. Dr. Vehse says that she yielded this point to Kaunitz only after long resistance and many tears, and finally, on his giving her proof that a general confession made by her to Father Hambacher had been taken down in writing, and sent to the general of the order. Others affirm that she gave way to the direct spiritual injunction of the Pope. But the secret history of the fall of the Jesuits, after all that has been written on it, seems to remain secret still.

Baron Gleichen says of her, that when at the point of death, as soon as she had ascertained from her physician the* number of hours she had to live, she hastened to receive the sacra-. ‘ments; and this done, she dismissed altogether the material

objects of her habitual devotions, did not even look at the • crucifix, despatched several affairs of business, and ended her • life seated on a sofa in the middle of her family. The Baron, himself believing in nothing but ghosts, magnetism, and alchemy, merely cites the story as evidence of the general unreality of religious professions. If there be any truth in it, we imagine him to be wholly wrong. Such resolute return to her ordinary duties was the act of devotion, in extremis, of a noble and most conscientious spirit, persuaded that the execution even to the last of the great earthly task allotted to it was due not to the world only, but to its own eternal welfare.

No picture of Maria Theresa's reign, however slight, would be complete without a sketch of the great minister Von Kaunitz, who managed her foreign affairs without interruption for twenty years, and, nominally, those of her son during his whole reign :

* According to one story, she authorised him to give her notice of her approaching end by a preconcerted question. When he asked whether she wanted lemonade?' she knew that sentence was passed.

and whose influence was strongly perceptible in much of her internal policy also. The figure of Kaunitz is one of those which come out in more definite importance as we recede from their times, and are better able in some respects to judge of them than their contemporaries, since we see as great and consistent political schemes what the latter only observed in fragments. The author of three great political events, the long French alliance of Austria, the fall of the Jesuits, and jointly with his northern coadjutors) of the partition of Poland, cannot pass into the oblivion which awaits ordinary premiers after their day of influence; although none of these three strokes of policy have been, strictly speaking, permanent; for the French alliance died with the French Revolution, and Austria fell back on her more natural affinities; the Jesuits have returned; and the partition of Poland, though a subsisting fact, has turned almost wholly to the profit of Russia.

Kaunitz was a Moravian of a converted Protestant family ; an exception to the general rule, that the greatest Austrian statesmen, as well as soldiers, have been foreigners. There was, however, no national feeling or character about him. As a public man, he was the servant of a crown, not a country; and in private his affectation of French manners and predilections were carried to an absurd excess. He remained through life a coxcomb and petit maitre,-a German petit maitre, too, , who never could, by the most laborious exertions, attain the graces of the native article. The French laughed at him, while he aped their manners and language to the extent of purposely speaking their bad German. Many strange things are told of him by our countrymen Wraxall and Swinburne; and Dr. Vehse has gleaned his anecdotes from their pages as well as from other quarters; but we will ourselves borrow the pen of a personal observer, the Baron Von Gleichen, whose curious • Denkwürdigkeiten' were published in 1847 under a German title, though composed by himself in French.

• Kaunitz was tall and well made, particular in his dress, notwithstanding the somewhat ludicrous appearance presented by his five tailed wig; he was dignified in his bearing, and his address was rather stiff and ceremonious. His formality of manner, however, sat more easily upon him than upon most of the Austrian nobles ; for it seemed of right to belong to him, and to bear the stamp of a superior mind.

Ilis usual salutation was merely a nod, but it was accompanied by a benevolent smile to his friends, and a patronising air towards others. He was kindhearted, upright, loyal, and disinterested, although by no means disinclined to receive presents from different courts of wine, horses, pictures, and other articles which gratified his


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taste. He expressed himself in carefully chosen language, and in a slow, deliberate manner. Few men had such an extensive acquaintance with technical language as he had, and he highly appreciated a command of it in others. An unusual word of this description would win his good opinion as easily as a bon-mot would that of the Duke of Choiseul. He was well informed and fond of art, especially of painting, and patronised artists of every class. He had a great esteem for accomplished craftsmen, even in the subordinate branches of handiwork, and had a real passion for well executed productions of every kind. Prudent and dispassionate, his excellent judgment and long experience well entitled him to the name they won for him, of the political Nestor of his age. He was happy in possessing a variety of elegant tastes, without being under the influence of any one ruling passion. Ilis friends complained of the coolness of his partiality to them, but his enemies, on the other hand, could accuse him of no harsh or vindictive conduct. He would listen with patience and attention to the most prolix details, and was very full and precise in his replies, but he would rarely permit a rejoinder. He was singularly sparing of his labour, and seemed often to be throwing away his time on dreams and trifling occupations, but his real object was to save time for thought, and to keep his head clear and collected. One of the maxims that he was constantly quoting, and which the Emperor Joseph might have studied with advantage, was, never to do one's self what another can do for one. “I would rather tear up “paper,” he used to say, “tban write a line which another person “could write as well as myself.” He was indeed so sparing of his writing, that his less important letters were only signed with a K. On the other hand, he made it a rule never to leave his office till all the business on hand was despatched. He carried his care of his health to the length of egotism. Anxious to keep himself free from every species of annoyance, he sacrificed every consideration to his personal comfort and convenience. Even in his youth, he used to make the Empress Maria Theresa allow him to close the window of her apartment if he felt it cold, and to wear his cap in her presence. In order to keep himself in an equal temperature, he carried a great coat and a cloak in the winter. It was bis habit to retire every evening at eleven o'clock, and neither the presence of an archduke, nor even of the Emperor, could induce him to put any constraint upon himself; and if he happened to be playing billiards with the latter, when eleven o'clock struck, he would make bis obeisance, and leave His Majesty standing. He had a great aversion to scents, and if approached by a lady who had any about her, even though she might be a stranger to him, he would accost her bluntly with the words, “ Allez madame, vous puez.” He tried to keep death and old age out of his thoughts, and would allow no notice to be taken of his birthday. In the instructions which he wrote with his own hand for his reader, he earnestly requested him never to name the words death or smallpox in his presence.

• To such a length did he carry his self-esteem, that he was accustomed to speak of himself as of a third person. The Emperor



Joseph had caused busts of Marshal Lascy and Prince Kaunitz to be made. Under that of the latter had been placed a Latin inscription, full of magnificent eulogies on the minister. Some one praised the excellent style of this inscription in his presence, and the prince replied, “I wrote it.” (It is said of him by Vehse that, if he wanted to praise anything very highly, he used to say, "Mein Gott, I could “ not have done that better myself.”) He was a good judge of horses, and was greatly pleased when any one admired his performances in his riding school, where he was always to be met with before dinner. The English ambassador, Keith, sent one of his countrymen there on one occasion, charging him to pay the prince the highest compliments he could, and to season them as strongly as was required for a man already sated with praises. The Englishman, who was no adept in the art of flattery, hesitating and blushing, brought out the words, “Oh! mon prince, you are the best rider I ever saw in my life.” “believe I am," was the only answer he received.'

The death of this singular being was in keeping with the rest of his career. He lived to the age of eighty-four, outlasting two generations of his masters, and witnessing the French Revolution and reign of Francis II. Deaf and doting, he clung to power with tenacious jealousy, and they were obliged at last to withdraw important papers from his cognisance by stratagem. When, like Achitophel of old, he saw that his counsel was no more followed, he is said to have refused sustenance and died of exhaustion.

With the really greater though less imposing operations of Maria Theresa's reign-those of reform in the internal administration of her states — Kaunitz had only indirectly to do. Her ablest counsellor in this department was Count Haugwitz, a Silesian, born a Protestant subject of Austria, but who abandoned his religion and came to Vienna when his native province was conquered by Frederick. The task of administrative reform imposed on her at her accession was indeed enormous; yet there were circumstances which rendered it less difficult than might have been supposed from its apparent magnitude. We must conceive the Austrian empire, in 1740, as not so much a State as a bundle of states under one sovereign,-a monarchy of the middle ages in the middle of the eighteenth century. Each separate state had its viceroy or stattholder, its diet, its admi nistration, and a separate branch of the Council in Vienna in communication with it. There was great pressure of taxation on the people, with scarcely any return to the treasury; an army neither regularly equipped nor recruited; a crown singularly poor in domain lands and private revenues, the resources of most German sovereigns. There was every obstacle which ignorance or apathy could oppose to reform; but there was

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