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THE HISTORY

OF

MODERN EUROPE

PART II.

FROM THE PEACE OF WESTPHALIA, IN 1648, TO THE PEACE OF PARIS, IN 1763.

LETTER XXVI.

•ENERAL VIEW OF THE AFFAIRS OF EUROPE, FROM THF. DEATH OF LEWIS XIV. IN 1715, TO THE DEATH OF THE EMPEROR' CHARLES VI. IN 1740.

Th E period on which we are now entering is happily distinguished by few great events, for great events are generally connected with great calamities. The war, that had so long ravished the finest part of Europe, if 15 had ceased at the peace of Utrecht, and discord seemed to have left the earth with the restless spirit of Lewis XIV. but a certain degree of agitation remained, like the rolling of the waves after a storm.

The progress of the rebellion in Great-Britain, against the authority of George I. and with a view of restoring the family of Stuart, I have already had occasion to trace. The

speedy speedy and fortunate suppression of that rebellion, as must ever be the case in all free governments, increased the influence of the crown. The whig-ministry, no longer under any apprehensions from the encroachment of arbitrary power, and willing utterly to crush their political enemies, without foreseeing the stab they were giving to public liberty, framed a bill for repealing the triennial act (lately thought essential, by their own party, to the freedom of the English constitution,) and for extending the duration of parliaments to the term of Seven Years. This bill, though warmly opposed by the tories (who now, in contradiction to their principles, took the popular side of all questions) and by many independent and unprejudiced members of A D 1716 kotk nouses, was carr'«:d by a great majority: and the king, by the uniform support of the whigs, who in their love of power forgot their republican maxims, found himself firmly seated on the British throne.

The authority of the duke of Orleans, regent of France during the minority of Lewis XV. was yet less perfectly established. He had a powerful faction to struggle with: and therefore judged it prudent to strengthen himself by alliances. But it will be proper, my dear Philip, before I enter into the particulars of those alliances, to turn your eye, for a moment, toward another quarter of Europe.

The Turks, who are far from being profound politicians, happily remained quiet while the christian princes were most deeply embroiled among themselves; but no sooner was the general peace concluded, than Achmet III. commenced hostilities against the Venetians, and made himself master of the Morea, or ancient Peloponnesus. The emperor Charles VI. as guarantee of the treaty of Carlowitz, by which this territory had been assigned to the republic of Venice, was bound in honour, to declare war against the Turks for infringing it:—and the pope, alarmed at the progress of the infidels, urged his Imperial majesty to stand

forth. forth in defence of Christendom. Charles accordingly assembled a powerful army, under the celebrated prince Eugene; who passed the Dauube, and defeated the grand vizier Ali at Peterwaraden. The year following, ^ ^ If if the same general undertook the siege of Helgrade. The Turks advanced to its relief, and besieged him in his camp. His danger was imminent; but military skill, and disciplined valour, triumphed over numbers and savage ferocity. He sallied out of his entrenchments; and, falling suddenly upon the enemy, routed them with great slaughter, and took their cannon, baggage, and every thing belonging to their camp. Belgrade surrendered immediately after.

The consequence of these two victories was the peace of Passarowitz, by which the porte ceded to the ^ ^ 1718 emperor, Belgrade and all the bannat of Temeswaer. But the Venetians, on whose account the war had been undertaken, did not recover their possessions in Greece: the Morea was left, and still remains in the hands of the Turks.

What time the arms of the emperor were employed against the infidels, a new enemy was rising up against him in Christendom, and even from the bosom of the catholic church! Philip V. of Spain, having lost his first queen, Maria Louisa of Savoy, had married, in 1714, Elizabeth Farnese, presumptive heiress to the duchies of Parma, Placentia, and Tuscany, with all the territories belonging to them. This marriage, which not a little alarmed the emperor, was chiefly brought about by the intrigues of Alberoni, an Italian priest, and a native of Placentia, who soon rose to the highest favour at the court of Madrid, and was honoured by the pope with a cardinal's hat. The princess Ursini, who had long directed all things in Spain, and who, it is said, might have shared the throne, had she not hoped to govern more absolutely and less invidiously, by means of another, was now ordered to quit the kingdom. The new queen, who was a woman of spirit, governed alone her too easy

husband, husband, and Alberoni governed the queen, by flattering her ambition'.

The bold, rather than correct, or illuminated genius of that minister, made him form the most extraordinary projects. The principal as well as most rational of these, though in itself sufficiently romantic, was to recover all the territories that Spain had ceded at the peace of Utrecht, but more especially her Italian dominions; this idea seems to have occupied the mind of Alberoni when he negociated the marriage of Philip V. with the princess of Parma, whose interest in Italy was great, and for whose offspring those speculative conquests were designed, as all hopes of their succeeding to the Spanish monarchy were cut off by the children of the first bed. In order to enable him to execute that ambitious project, which was highly flattering to the queen, he laboured indefatigably, and with no small degree of success, to put the Spanish finances on a respectable footing, while henew-modelled and greatly augmented both the army and navy.

Alberoni, however, did not rely merely on the resources of Spain for the execution of so great an undertaking. He extended his negociations and intrigues to every court in Europe. He endeavoured to engage the Turks, notwithstanding their losses, to continue the war against the emperor, whom he meant to strip of his Italian conquests. He persuaded Philip V. that his renunciation was invalid, and that he had still a better right than the duke of Orleans, not only to the crown of France, in case of the death of Lewis XV. without male issue, but also to the regency during the minority of that prince. In hopes of bringing about this important revolution, and becoming prime minister of both France and Spain, he accordingly inflamed the French malecontents. He also encouraged the Scottish jacobites, with whom he held a

1. Mem. it NoailUt, torn, ii.

Jecret

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