Page images

derives an amazing revenue from this country, which, about a century and a-half ago, was the seat of boors and barbarism. It is said that amber alone brings him in 26,000 dollars annually. His other revenues arise from his demesnes, his duties of customs and tolls, and the subsidies yearly granted by the several states; but the exact sum is not known ; though we may conclude it is very considerable from the immense charges of the Seven Years' war. The revenue which the king draws from Silesia amounts annually to 5,854,632 rix-dollars; and after deducting the expenses of the military establishment, and all others, there is a net revenue of 1,554,632 rix-dollars. His revenues nox, since the accession of Polish or Royal Prussia, must be greatly increased. exclusive of its fertility, commerce, and population, its local situation was of vast importance, as it lay between his German dominions and his kingdom of Prussia. By this acquisition, his dominions are compact, and his troops may march from Berlin to Köningsberg without interruption.

MILITARY STRENGTH.] The Prussian army, even in time of peace, consists of about 180,000 of the best disciplined troops in the world ; and during the Seven Years' war that force was augmented to 300.000 men. But this great military force, however it may aggrandise the power and importance of the king, is utterly inconsistent with the interests of the people. The army is chiefly composed of provincial regiments, the whole Prussian dominions being divided into circles or cantons; in each of which, one or more regiments, in proportion to the size and populousness of the divisions, have been originally raised, and from it the recruits continue to be taken : and each particular regiment is always quartered, in time of peace, near the canton from which its recruits are drawn. Whatever number of sons a peasant may have, they are all liable to be taken in to the service except one, who is left to assist in the management of the farm. The rest wear badges from their childhood, to mark that they are destined to be soldiers, and obliged to enter into the service whenever they are called upon. But the maintaining so large an army, in a country naturally so little equal to it, has occasioned such a drain from population, and such a withdrawing of strength from the labours of the earth, that the late king endeavoured in some degree to save his own peasantry, by drawing as many recruits as he could from other countries. These foreign recruits remain continually with the regiments in which they are placed ; but the native Prussians have every year some months of furlough, during which they return to the houses of their fathers or brothers, and work at the business of the farm, or in any other way they please.

ARMS AND ORDERS OF KNIGHTHOOD.) The royalarms of Prussia are, argent, an eagle displayed sable, crowned, or, for Prussia. Azure, the imperial sceptre, or, for Courland. Argent, an eagle displayed, gules, with semicircular wreaths, for the marquisate of Brandenburg To these are added the respective arms of the several provinces subject to the Prussian crown.

There are four orders of knighthood : the Order of Concord," insti. tuted by Christian Ernest, margrave of Brandenburg, in the year 1660,00 distinguish the part he had acted in restoring peace to many of the princes of Europe. Frederic III. elector of Brandenburg, and afterwards king of Prussia, instituted, in 1685, the “ Order of Generosity." The knight wear a cross of eight points, enamelled blue, having in the centre ihus motto, “ La Générosité,” pendent to a blue ribband. The sajne prince instituted the “ Order of the Black Eagle," on che day of his coronation

[ocr errors]

at Köningsberg, in the year 1700 : the sovereign is always grand-master; and the number of knights, exclusive of the royal family, is limited to thirty, who must also be admitted into the Order of Generosity,” previous to their receiving this, unless they be sovereign princes. The "Order of Merit" was instituted by the late king, in the year 1740, to Teward the merit of persons cither in arms or arts, without distinction of birth, religion, or country: the king is sovereign, and the number of knights unlimited.

HISTURY.) The ancient history of Prussia, like that ofother kingdoms, is lost in the clouds of tiction and romance. The early inhabitants, a brave and warlike people, descended from the Sclavonians, refused to submit to the neighbouring princes, who, on pretence of converting them to Christianity, endeavoured to subject them to slavery. They made u noble stand against the kings of Poland; one of whom, Boleslaus IV. was by them deteated and killed in 1163. They continued independent, and pagans, till the time of the crusades, when the German knights of the Teutonic order, about the year 1227, undertook their conversion hy the edge of the sword, but upon condition of having, as a reward, the property of the country when conquered. A long series of wars followed, in which the inhabitants of Prussia were almost extirpated by the religious knights, who in the thirteenth century, after committing the most incredible barbarities, peopled the country with Germans. After a vast waste of blood, in 1466, a peace was concluded between the knights of the Teutonic order and Casimir IV. king of Poland, who had undertakea the cause of the oppressed people; by which it was agreed, that the pan now called Polish Prussia should continue a free province, under the king's protection; and that the knights and the grand-master should possess the other part, acknowledging themselves vassals of Poland, This gave rise to fresh wars, in which the knights endeavoured, but unsuccessfully, to throw off their vassalage to Poland. In 1595, Albert, margrave of Brandenburg, and the last grand-master of the Teutonic order, laidaside the habit of his order, embraced Lutheranism, and concluded a peace at Cracow, by which the margrave was acknowledged duke of the cast part of Prussia (formerly called, for that reason, Ducal Prussia), but to be held as a fief of Poland, and to descend to his male heirs; and upon failure of this man's issue, to his brother and his male heirs. 'Thus ended the sovereignty of the Teutonic order in Prussia, after it had subsisted near 300 years. In 1657, the elector Frederic William of Brandenburg, deFervedly called the Great, had Ducal Prussia contirmed to him; and by the conventions of Welan and Bromberg, it was freed by John Casinır, king of Poland, from vassalage; and he and his descendants were declared independent and sovereign lords of this part of Prussia.

As the protestant religion had been introduced into this country by the margrave Albert, and the electors of Brandenburg were now of that pes suasion, the protestant interest favoured them so much, that Frederic, the son of Frederic William the Great, was raised to the dignity of king of Prussia, in a solemn assembly of the states, proclaimed January 18, 1701, aud soon after acknowledged as such by all the powers of Christendom. His grandson, Frederic II. in the memoirs of his family, gives us no high idea of this first king's talents for government, but expatiates on those of his own father, Frederic William, who succeeded in 1713. He certainly was a prince of strong natural abilities, and considerably increased the revenues of his country, but too often at the expense of humanity. At his death, which happened in 1740, he is said to have left seven millions and the more wonderful resources by which he repaired his defeats, to become the admiration of the age. He improved the arts of peace as well as of war, and distinguished himself as a poet, philosopher, and legislator. Some of the principal transactions of his reign have already been related in our account of the history of Germany. In the year 1783, he published a rescript, signifying his pleasure that no kneeling in future should be practised in honour of his person, assigning for his reason, that this act of humiliation was not duc but to the Divinity; and near 2,000,000 of crowns were expended by him, in 1782, in draining marshes, establishing factories, settling colonies, relieving distress, and in other purposes of philanthropy and policy.


'The late king of Prussia, who succeeded his uncle, August 17, 1786, made many salutary regulations for his subjects, and established a court of honour to prevent the diabolical practice of duelling in bis dominions.

The exertions of Prussia against France, till the treaty of peace concluded between those two powers, on the 5th of April, 1795, have been already related in our account of France.

The conduct of Prussia with regard to Poland is difficult to explain; and it would apparently have been more for the interest of the former lo have erected the latter as a formidable independent barrier against Russia and Austria, than to have exposed itself to the enormous and increased power of Russia.

Frederic-William II. * died at Berlin, of a dropsy, November 16, 1797, and was succeeded by his son, Frederic-William III.

Frederic-William II, king of Prussia, and elector of Brandenburg, born September 25, 1744; married, July 14, 1765, to the princess Elizabeth-Christiana-Ulrica, of Brunswic Wolfenbuttle. 2dly, on July 14, 1769, to Frederica-Louisa, of Hesse Darmstadt,

Issue by the first marriage : Frederica-Charlotta-Ulrica-Catharine, born May 7, 1767 ; marrier, September 29, 1791, to the duke of York, the second son of his Britanpic majesty.

Issue by the latter marriage: 1. Frederic-William, the present king, born August 3, 1770, 2. Frederic-Louis-Charles, born August 3, 1773.

3. Frederica-Sophia-Wilhelmina, born November 18, 1774; married, October 1, 1791, to the hereditary prince of Orange,

4. Frederic-Christian-Augustus, born May 1, 1780.
5. Another prince, born December 20, 1781.
6. Another prince, born July, 1783.

Queen dowager, Elizabeth-Christina, of Brunswick Wolfen buttle, born November 8, 1715.

Brother and sister to the late king : 1. Frederic-Charles-Henry, born December 30, 1747.

2. Frederica-Sophia-Wilhelmina, born in 1751; and married, in 1767, to the present prince of Orange.

In enumerating the kings of Prussia, we have thought it most proper to follow the method used in Prussia, and throughout Germany, where the Frerlerics are de tinguished from the Frederic-Williams: thus the uncle of the late king, and the tato kiny, frequently here cepled Frederic III. and Frederic IV. are always called, on the continent, Frederic II. and Frederic-William II. the father of the formçi gor being stylcd Frederic II. but Frederic-William I.


imperial demesnes, from the stage of villanage in which they have been sa long and so unjustly retained; and it will be happy if his example sbould be followed by the Bohemian nobility, and they be thereby induced no longer to deprive their vassals of the rights of human nature. Althoug the Bohemians, at present, are not remarkable either for arts or they formerly distinguished themselves as the most intrepid assertor of civil and religious liberty in Europe ; witness the early introduction the reformed religion into their country, when it was scarcely knotais any other; the many glorious defeats they gave to the Austrian power. and their generous struggles for independency. Their virtues may be considered as the causes of their decay, as do means were left unemplosan by their despotic masters for breaking their spirit; though it is certain their internal jealousies and dissentions greatly contributed to ibeir suhjection. Their customs and diversions are the same as in Germiany.

RELIGION.) Though popery is the established religion of Bohemia, yet there are many protestants among the inhabitants, who are now tolerated in the free exercise of their religion : and some of the Moravians have embraced a visionary unintelligible protestantism, if it deserves that name, which they have propagated by their zealous missionaries in several parts of the globe. They have a meeting-house in London, and obtained an act of parliament for a settlement in the plantations.

ARCHEISHOPRIC AND BISHOPRICS.] Prague is the only Bohemian archbishopric. The bishoprics are Koningsgratz, Breslau, and Olmutz.

LANGUAGE.] The proper language of the Bohemians is a dialect of i the Sclavonian, but they generally speak German and High Durch.

UNIVERSITY.] The only university of Bohemia is that of Prague.

CITIES AND TOWNs.} Prague, the capital of Bohemia, is one of the ! finest and most inagnificent cities in Europe, and famous for its poble bridge. Its circumference is so large, that the grand Prussian army, in its last seige, never could completely invest it. For this reason it is able to make a vigorons detence in case of a regular siege. The inhabitants are ] thought not to be proportioned to its capaciousness, being computed not to exceed 70,000 Christians, and about 13,000 Jews. It contains ninetyiwo churches and chapels, and forty cloisters. liis a place of little or no trade, and therefore the middling inhabitants are not wealthy ; but the i Jews are said to carry on a large commerce in jewels. Bohemia contains many other towns, soine of which are fortified: but they are neither remarkable for strength or manufactures. Olmutz is the capital of Muravia; it is well fortitied, and has manufactures of woollen, irun, glass, paper, and gun-powder. Breslau, the capital of Silesia, has been already described.

COMMERCE AND MANUFACTUREŞ.) See Germany. ConstituTION AND GOVERNMENT.] The forms and only the forms, of the old Bohemian constitution still subsist; but the government under the emperoris despotic. Their states are composed of the clergy, nobility, pentry, and representatives of towns. Their sovereigns of late have no: been fond of provoking them by ill usage, as they have a general aversion towards the Austrians. This kingdom is frequently described as part of Germany, but with little reason, for it is not in any of the nine circles, nor does it contribute any thing towards the forces or revenues of the empire, nor is it subject to any of its laws. What gives some colour is this mistake, is that the king of Bohemia is the first secular elector of the empire, and their kings have been clected emperors of Germany for

any years. REUS YUes. The revenues of Bohemia are whatever the sovereiga

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »