« AnteriorContinuar »
to the accomplishment of my plans for the happiness of my people, and, by your zeal, justify the respect which they have always had for your services. Vienna, March, 1785.
To Lewis Stanislaus, Count of Provence. My friend,-Wearied with disquietudes to which an individual is exposed, whom destiny has made a king, I seek that repose and domestic joy of which the throne deprives me, in the Guadro of Lucil, and in my family circle.
My brothers are so dear to me, and my sisters so worthy of respect, that since I have lost the joys of a father, they have compensated me for every thing of which fate has deprived me.
T'he Grand Duke of Florence is a prince, who possesses patriarchal qualifications ; father of his house, and, at the same time, the father of his people, he is loved by every one; under his government Toscana is the happiest country in Italy.
Archduke Ferdinand, Governor General of Milan, unites with the character of a German prince the excellent qualities of our late father; he is kind and condescending to his people, and benevolent to his friends.
The Elector, my youngest brother, is, as it were, born to be a sovereign. I have the tenderest friendship for this prince, and it would have been a misfortune to the country which Providence has confided to his guidance, if the self-created Dictator of Germany had prevented his elevation.
These are imperfect sketches for the picture of my family : I am too much the friend of these princes, not to become ardent in delineating their characters : in the warmth of my feelings I lose sight of the qualities of an impartial judge, and am satisfied with the reflection, that posterity will read the document of my friendship.
Leaving the circle of the men, I hasten to give you a sketch of the princesses, my sisters. : The eldest, Maria Anna, is entirely the daughter of the Empress; pious, virtuous, and kind; a lady of a higher race of mankind, and born for the joys of another world.—Christina, Governess-general of the Austrian Netherlands; and consort of the Duke of Saxe-Teschen, my second sister, is an excellent lady: the joys of a mother would sweeten the lot of her life. She and the Archduchess Elizabeth are both very amiable.--The Duchess of Parma, and the Queen of the
two Sicilies, to make use of an allegory, are Amazons. Two ladies who have rendered themselves worthy of the confidence of their respective subjects, and who have sufficient talents to govern men and empires.
Antoinette, the Queen of the Franks, and consort of Lewis XVI, is a gratifying gift to my country. Her charms have united two nations, which for three centuries hated, persecuted, and made war upon each other. She is revered by the nation of the Gauls, loved by her consort, and admired by -Europe.
Behold, my friend, in this picture, the source of my joys. Behold in it, how I am compensated for the disquietudes which the diadem occasions; and, if morality could approve envy, you might envy me the happiness I derive from a family who are to me the dearest gift of Providence. Vienna, February, 1786.
To Charles, Count Palfi, Chancellor of the Kingdom of
Hungaria. Mr. Chancellor,- In order to establish a suitable constitution of Comitats, and to determine how their affairs are to be carried on, we must first ascertain what a Comitat is, and what are the duties of a Vice-Inspector, who is to preside over it. Neither the Council nor the Chancery seem to have impartially considered this.--A Comitat is a small part of the kingdom; I call it small, not as if it were insignificant, but because the kingdom is divided into forty-three such parts, each of which must have a form corresponding with the whole. It would be a monstrous constitution-and such it has till now proved—if we were to consider these parts as separate provinces, and suffered their opinions, deliberations, representations, protestations, and disobedience, as it respects the decrees proceeding from the general legislation and constitution, and which ought to be promptly obeyed and executed. The cause of the continuation of this abuse was twofold ; first, a division of the Comitats, produced in former times by intestine commotions and foreign wars, on the continuation of which division they seemed to establish, without knowing why, the security of the constitution : secondly, the kings themselves, by these multiplied divisions, and the influence which, by various means, they knew how to exercise over their sentiments and decisions, wished to obtain either immediate advantages, or some concessions, or an increased number of votes in favor of their propositions to the diet; or,
because in this partition, and in the consequent division of opinions, the king had in view his own security or the increase of his power and revenues.
Every one, particularly the Chancery, will easily perceive, and I prove it, that such contemptible means do not suit me, who want no other security than my conscience. The common welfare is my sole aim, and from this I shall never deviate. Vienna, July, 1786.
To the Prince Kaunitz.
Mon Prince-I remained in Lemberg until the 6th, having previously received a courier from Kiow; I then travelled by Brodi to Cherson, where I arrived on the 14th.--At Korsun I had an interview with the King of Poland, with whom I conversed for some time. I took my leave of him with every mark of friendship, and assured him that, as guarantee of the treaties of 1775, I would support the constitution of the empire.
At Cherson I was received in the name of the Empress, by the son of the celebrated Romanzow, and Count Schuwalow; I also met there, in the house of my consul, my inter-nuncio at Constantinople, the Baron von Herbert.
I went to meet the Empress as far as Koidac, and returned to Cherson with her and the Countess Branicki: my ambassador at Petersburg, Count Kobenzel, was with them.
The suite of the Empress of Russia was very brilliant; she was accompanied by the Princes Potemkin, Ligne, and Nassau, and the ambassadors of France, England, and Naples. Count Kobenzel, Baron Herbert, and the ambassador of the Empress at Constantinople, were also among the company.
I intend to travel through the Krim; when I have seen what is remarkable there, you shall have my observations. For the rest, I recommend to you the welfare of my states, which I have entrusted to your wise direction, and I am, with unalterable sentiments of esteem and benevolence, your Cherson, May, 1787.
To the same.
Mon Prince,- When I left Cherson with the Empress, we travelled by way of Bereslaw, and thence we crossed over
to the island of Taman in a shalloop. From Taman we proceeded farther through Taury by way of Perecop, and I here visited the celebrated lines of defence which, in 1771, the Prince of Dolgurukow took by storm.
Two days after I saw Batschkiserai, the late residence of the Chan; then Enkerman; and lastly, the sea-port of Sebastopol, which, as the fleet was then lying in the harbour, afforded a beautiful prospect.
We afterwards visited Karasu, Basary, Theodosia, Kamenoj, Most, &c. On the 13th, after taking leave of the Empress, I went from Cherson to Lemberg, and I hope soon to see again Vienna and you.
Taury, which may yet become the apple of discord of a bloody war between Russia and the Porte, possesses nothing worthy of remark; it is a fertile country, but thinly inhabited; the towns and villages are poor, and still bear the traces of having been inhabited by Tartars.
Russia notwithstanding derives very considerable advantages from the acquisition of this province: she may involve the Osmans, after the destruction of their armada, in the greatest difficulties; she may make Stambol itself tremble; and may open a road to Paros and the Hellespont, but which I must of necessity prevent on the side of Romelia. Adieu, Kaunitz! your
JOSEPH. June, 1787.
To Madam ***.
Madame,- I do not conceive that a monarch is bound to give any one of his subjects an appointment, merely because he is by birth a nobleman. Have you more weighty reasons for the request you have made, than those which I have just mentioned to you? Do you not say, that your late husband was a meritorious General, and a Cavalier, of a distinguished house ? and that from my generous disposition towards your family, you flatter yourself you shall obtain a company of infantry for your second son, who has just returned from his travels ?
Madame! a man may be the son of a general, without possessing the least qualification for an officer ;-a man may be a Cavalier of a good family, without having any other merit, than that of being a nobleman merely by the effect of chance.
I know your son, and I know the qualifications requisite for an officer. From this knowledge I am convinced that your son has not the character of a military man, and that he
is too much occupied with his birth, for me to expect from him such services, as might one day be the boast of his country.
What I pity you for, Madame, is this, that your son is fit neither for an officer, a statesman, nor for a priest. In short, he is nothing but a nobleman, and this he is from the bottom of his heart.
Thank your good fortune, which, while it denied your son all talents, put him in possession of considerable estates, which sufficiently indemnify him, and, at the same time, render my services very superfluous.
I hope you will be impartial enough to perceive the causes which have forced from me a determination, which will very probably be disagreeable to you, but which I consider ne, cessary.
Adieu, madame! Your very affectionate Lachsenburg, August 4th, 1787.
To Ferdinand, Count of Trautmannsdorf, Minister in the
Netherlands. My dear Count,-Truly it cannot escape the observation of a Philosopher, that for some time a spirit of opposition has been spreading over Europe, which must form an epoch in history, the more striking, because we live in an age which can boast of good kings.
When Philosophy reared her head, the people deceived themselves; they expected, from an enlightened age, order in civil life, and a better observance of the laws, since these are necessary consequences of proper reflections in the mind of all good subjects.
To search for the causes which have produced so many commotions, would be leading into an inextricable labyrinth.
After all, it is remarkable, that France, by the assistance she afforded to America, gave birth to reflections on freedom.
Holland was the first state in Europe in which the seeds of discord were sown, by the aristocratic ambition of some Bewindhebbers,' until Prussia enforced peace in the hereditary state of Orange.
In these countries the Dutch were rebellious; my own subjects opposed the arrangements which I made for the best of these provinces, and the nobles of the nation headed the mob! France followed them in these confusions, by convocating the notables ; the nation fancied they were living in the reign of Henry IV, and expected much from the oratorical talents of
'De Bewindhebbers (der oostindische maatschappy).