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It seems strange to award the last praise to the divider of Poland; yet it is not undeserved. It is known that she consented to that measure when her energy was enfeebled by disease, under the pressing influence of Kaunitz, and as it should seem under the fear of a northern league against her. But she wrote under Kaunitz's minute the memorable words,
"“ Placet, since so many great and learned men will have it so : “ but when I have long been dead, men will learn the consequences “ of this violation of all that has hitherto been regarded as just and “ holy.” . .: “I observe well,” she added, in another scrap of paper, still preserved, “that I am left alone, and no longer en vigueur ; “therefore, I let things take their course, though to my deep sorrow.”
* Like all great spirits,' Vehse proceeds, she was enthusiastic in love and friendship. Whoever was loved by her became the entire possessor of her affection. The feeling of gratitude was in her unusually strong; she never forgot the slightest service, or most trivial mark of attachment. The Hungarians, who had rescued her at the outset of her reign, were among the last thoughts which occupied her deathbed; nor did she ever forget that the Turks had abstained from turning her extremity on that occasion to their advantage. . . She was, whenever there was occasion for it, heroic in demeanour, clear in judgment, consistent in conduct. Of humour, and the genial jovial temperament of her ancestor Rudolf, she possessed nothing whatever. Yet she was always cheerful, and, in her youth, a lover of amusement and festivity. The most threatening vicissitudes of fortune disturbed her outward composure but
Impatient apprehensiveness was an ingredient altogether foreign from her thoroughly princely blood.'
The household virtues of correct life and family affection in great princes have become, fortunately, matter of rather commonplace encomium at the present day; it was not so in Maria Theresa's; and her conduct in these respects contrasted nobly with that of the crowned profligates of her sex who succeeded cach other on the neighbouring throne of Russia. Young and beautiful, amidst all the vice of a corrupt age, and all the
aptation to uncontrolled indulgence which the world's ready acquiescence or approval could have afforded, she was preserved at once by strong religious principle, and by that passionate, imaginative attachment which women of her temperament can often bring themselves to feel for a handsome, good-natured, rakish, pococurante husband, with not one tittle of their own heart or intellect, and who loves them but
A little better than his horse, a little dearer than his hound.' The married life of Maria Theresa and Francis of Lorraine should be portrayed by the hand -- a great deal too cunning in such disagreeable delineation — which has described for us the
ménage of Lady Castlewood and her profligate of a Viscount. We should, however, do the Emperor Francis injustice by too close a comparison. Though so ill educated that he could hardly read or write, his unaffected good sense and amiable character made him one of the most attractive persons of his age; and irresistible, it seems, by many besides his empress. She was ready to sacrifice all and everything for him, save power, the darling of her life, which even conjugal endearment could not win from her. She could bear no partner on the throne, and Francis had not the force of character to gain from her the cherished possession. Reduced to unwilling insignificance, yet disagreeably conscious of his own unfitness, even if allowed, to take any real share in the government of his realm, he became, as his son Joseph II. described him, an idler, surrounded by i flatterers.' •Be warned by me,' said the Empress, in a fit of confidence to her reader Madame Greiner, and never marry a man who has nothing to do.'
It was a natural consequence that she plagued his life out with jealousy. She tried to get rid of all the pretty aristocratic faces which might tempt the eyes of her sauntering consort. Like her great English prototype Elizabeth, though from a very different development of character, she got, by degrees, to detest gallantry and Airtation, and all that could recall to her mind the frailty of marital nature. “Elle voudrait,' says the Prussian envoy, Count Podewils, in 1747, ‘par le méme principe bannir
toute galanterie de la cour. Elle voudrait faire un ménage * bourgeois.' The effect even survived the cause, and Maria Theresa's close and conventual watchfulness over the morals of her court and metropolis, after her husband's death, became by no means the most dignified feature in her administration. * The thought 'says Vehse, 'incessantly accompanied her, that it
was her duty, as the first of her sex, to protect its morals and * dignity.' Some of the consequences of this notion, the secret drawing-room inquisition or 'Sitten-gericht,' the • KeuschheitsCominission,' and the like, might furnish a ludicrous commentary on the results of such imperial fancies.
But if Maria Theresa did little but mischief by this meddling, there can be no doubt of the immense effect for good of her imperial example. Every one conversant with the history of our country, has done justice to the influence of the domestic life of George III. on its moral progress; even higher merit of the same order was due to Maria Theresa, in less auspicious times. It is not too much to say, that by the proof which she gave, that beauty, and grace, and enthusiasm, the love of admiration and the love of power, and every other quality of the queenly
lady, were compatible, not only with high religious views, but with a strict and religious life, she greatly raised, in Germany, the dignity of her own sex, and its appreciation by the other, and counteracted successfully the evil influences which radiated from that seat of cold and cynical profligacy, the court of her victorious neighbour Frederick. Perhaps the greater directness of the influence of that example on the female half of her court, produced the result so frequently observed on by Sir R. Keith in his correspondence, — that the ladies of Vienna were far superior, in point of cultivation and intellect, to the men.
It must be added to this part of her portrait, that even injuries on the tenderest point neither affected her constitutional magnanimity, nor her constant attachment. When the remains of her husband were at Hall on the Inn, waiting for conveyance to Vienna after his sudden death at Innspruck, she appeared in public for the first time. Alone in a corner of the room, in deep mourning, and avoided by all, stood the last object of his too notorious admiration, the beautiful princess Heinrich von Auersperg. The empress stepped at once from the circle and took her by the hand: We have indeed both lost much, meine * Liebe.' And from that day she took the princess under her protection.* Maria Theresa survived her husband fifteen years, , living amid the emblems of perpetual mourning. She shut herself up on the eighteenth of every month, and the whole of every August, the day and month of his death. As her life drew near its end, she spent many days at times in the funeral chapel, before the picture of her husband, taken as he lay in his coffin ; and her last words, well understood by those around her, were, •I come to thee.'
But perhaps the empress's maternal virtues constituted a higher claim on the affections of the good-humoured Viennese than even her conjugal. Who can estimate the value, for the promotion of loyalty, of those sympathies of the nursery and the school-room which so irresistibly attach the most influential half of mankind ? The happy mother of sixteen little archdukes and archduchesses, absorbed in the endless details of their teething, weaning, and education, possessed a source of innocent popularity which her good-natured and somewhat gossiping disposition rendered still more efficacious. She lived, so to speak, in public, and made all Vienna and all Austria as far as she
Some ingenious German speculator has conjectured that the personage called the German princess, whose mysterjous discovery under a haystack near Bristol occupied the lovers of the marvellous in 1780, was a daughter of Francis İ. by this lady.
could, the confidantes of her maternal pleasures and anxieties. There was no loss of dignity or refinement to be hazarded by such condescension as this: least of all in a country where the romance of life, and its commonest domestic details, have always been linked together more closely than elsewhere; where heroines are still said to effect their conquests while cutting slices of bread and butter, and sentiment to find its favourite lodging in the store-room. When the news arrived of the birth of her grandson (afterwards Francis the Second) in 1768, she hurried off to the opera, where she had not been for a long time, in most domestic dishabille, leant over the ledge of the box, and called to her neighbours loud enough for the information of the whole house, · Poldel’ (Leopold) has got a boy, and on my weddingday too; is not that gallant ?' Pit and boxes were electrified.
Yet though Maria Theresa was the homeliest and inost natural of mothers, so long as she could keep her children under her wing, her affection was ever subordinate to the fatal • Ragion
• di Stato,' to that political game which was the great object of her life. She never understood the noble character of her son Joseph, her •Starrkopf,' as she called him. The bigotry of his education made him reserved and suspicious, while its pedantry rendered him ill informed *; and by her obstinate refusal to part with one atom of her power to him, though nominally associated with her and already advanced in middle age when she died, she made his love of reform, which would have found a thousand useful vents, ferment within him to a dangerous revolutionary passion. Her beloved daughters were sacrificed one by one to state convenience. Three of them in turn were destined for the royal wretchedness of union with Ferdinand of Naples; two were rescued from the honour by death. "Je regarde la pauvre Josèphe' (she said of the favourite among them) comme un sacrifice de politique; pourvu
• It is distressing to think of the sufferings the young philosopher must have undergone at the hand of his well-meaning instructors. The history of the Austrian empire was written on purpose for him, in fifteen folio volumes. Some judgment of its character may be formed from what Mailàth says of the Hungarian division, written by a patriotic canon, in which twice as much space was allotted to the Huns and Avars as to events after the succession of the House of Hapsburg. One result on Joseph's mind, among others, was a great distaste for the acquisition of positive knowledge, usually the branch in which sovereigns of any education have shone the most ; insomuch that there was some truth in Frederick’s remark, that though always learning, he knew nothing. His fancy was full of ideas, his memory barren of facts.
• qu'elle fasse son devoir envers Dieu et son époux, et qu'elle • fasse son salut, dût-elle même être malheureuse, je serai con
tente. In an evil day for the Neapolitan people and for humanity, Josepha was replaced by Caroline in the contract with the Lazzarone king, who received his Austrian princesses fresh and fresh, as they were served up, with perfect indifference. A courtier asked him how he liked the bride? Dorme come ' un' ammazzata, e suda come un porco' was the polite reply. But Maria Theresa's darling wish was fulfilled, when her youngest daughter was summoned to the proudest and apparently the happiest of unions which affection or policy could have desired, - the brightest and most cloudless morning which ever belied its promise.
As was in natural accordance with a domestic character of this description, affability and ease, the favourite Gutmüthigkeit of her country, — something compounded of good nature and good humour-were among the chief charms of Maria Theresa's disposition, and the chief secrets of her influence. It seemed strange, that one who appeared to the world wrapt in the stateliest etiquette, and who was, moreover, everywhere regarded as a punctilious assertor of her rights and dignity, should be at the same time so accessible to those about her, and so little excited by trifling neglect or even affront; but so it was. Even the weakness which Wraxall remarks in her, of believing too readily the stories which found their way to her private ear, and taking partial views in consequence, arose out of the same disposition. The liberties which were sometimes taken with so mighty an Empress, and in public too, seem surprising. The young Prince Christian von Lowenstein was banished on one occasion from Court for some excess. He appeared there the next day notwithstanding. The Empress had him brought before her to give account of his audacity. • At Berlin,' was his answer, 'an
order is given only once, but at Vienna you must speak three ' times before a thing is done.' The Empress smiled, and the order was withdrawn. In her zeal for correcting the morals of her people, she one day commenced an address to her great minister Kaunitz, as he attended in her cabinet, on the subject of his extravagances. Je ferai observer à S.M.,' was his reply, que je suis venu ici pour lui parler de ses affaires, et non des miennes.' The imperial lecturer was silenced at once.
This kind of yielding disposition in trifles, coupled with stubbornness in essentials, was far from unsuccessful, as in countries requiring stronger management it might have been. It suited the character of the German-Austrians, the courtiers and court aristocracy, the townsfolk of Vienna, the public under whose