« PreviousContinue »
other particulars, but who, from their ignorance of music, confound harmony and melody, as if synonymous terme. Mr. Brown furprised us * with speaking of an harmonious voice.
Mr. Brown has passed a severe, and we think unjust, censure + on the fingers and orchestra of our best concerts, however it may be applicable to the worst." The taking an opera air out of its niche, is frequently abrupt, and of no effect in still life ; cantatas were certainly beccer fitred for these miscellaneous performances; but, sometimes, an entire funa of an opera, as it is now frequently executed at concerts, has all the effect of a cantata, from the introductory recitative, wbich explains the passion to be expressed in the air.
We must likewise detend the English from the charge of loving difficult mufic more than fimple. All new fashions in this art come hither from Italy and Germany; the first of these countries bas furnished us with its chief vocal difficulties, and the lecond with instrumental and extraneous modulation. The English admire much more than they love either ; or why their long attachmedt to Handel, Corelli, and Geminiani, and their perpetual complaints of the too great execution of the present most celebrated performers, both vocal and inftrumental?
These few fight inaccuracies excepted, we have read these letters with great pleasure; and we beartily recommend them to the perusal of the frequenters of the Italian opera, and to the writers and composers of musical dramas for our own stage. D."B....y.
Mr. Brown's letters were originally addressed to Lord Monboddo, in answer to some queries which his lordship put to their author, respecting the Italian language. Lord M. had a very bigh idea of Mr Brown's superior excellence in his profession; and has said, that he was very learned in all the Italian arts, parti. cularly in their poetry and their music.
A character of Mr. Brown is prefixed to the letters, written in elegant Latin; in which he is represented as a man of worth, of knowlege, and of genius; a good scholar, an exquifite arkift; of liberal sentiments, and of polished manners.
hamous Works of Frederic II., King of Prusia, &c. continued.
E left the king resolved to march into Silesia, and to al
sert the ancient righıs of his house to several principalities in that country. The statement which he makes, before he passed the Rubicon, of what he had to apprehend, and of what
+ P. 88.
he had to hope from this bold enterprise, is a master-piece of po. litical and military logic. Every thing that the state of the European powers actually exhibited, or that the chapter of accidents could lead the most sagacious and provident mind to conjecture, is weighed with the utmost perspicacity and precision, and Let us take the road! was the conclusion. We cannot enter on any detail of this bloody war, nor of the curious and well-conducted negotiations with which it was intermixed. Such an interesting combination of the intrigues of cabinets and the operations of camps, is rarely to be met with. The former take up a very large place in the rapid, animated, and eloquent narration of the royal author; and to the view of the reader is laid open a variety of interesting characters and negotiations in all the courts of Europe at that time. The observations of the king on the conduct of the contending armies in each battle, on the valour and discipline of the troops, on the stratagems, exertions, merits, and faults of their commanders, contain a rich fund of instruction for the military student, and may be even useful to the most experienced adepts in the art of war.
The first volume brings us to the conclusion of 1742, in which year the Pruflian monarch had augmented his revenues, by the conquest of Silesia, to the amount of three millions and half of dollars. This conqueft was his main object; and therefore, when he had obtained it, he became graciously inclined to a separate peace with the court of Vienna, that he might repair his finances, recruit and augment his army, and put himself in a condition to preserve a balance among the contending powers which ftill kept the field. The queen of Hungary desired a peace with Frederic, and made great facrifices to obtain it, that she might unite her forces against France and the powers that supported the elector of Bavaria. Accordingly the peace was concluded at Breslaw; and in the negociations that preceded and promoted it, the ministers of George II. and particularly the Earl of Hyndford, acted a considerable part.
From the conquest of Silefia, we perceive that Frederic was a favourite of fortune, as well as a great political genius and a consummate warrior. For, though the unparalleled discipline of his troops, the signal merit of his generals, and the abilities of his wife and incorruptible ministers, contributed, in a very TCmark ble manner, to the success of this arduous undertaking; all these were, nevertheless, seconded by a happy combination of accidental circumftances, without which it might have milcarried. These circumitances, as the royal author himself tells us, weri, che entrance of France into the war-the attack made on Ruffia by the Swedes-the timorous prudence that kept the Hanoverians and Saxons in a state of inaction-an uninterrupted series of victorias, and the views of the king of England and his
minifter, minister, lord Carteret, with respect to France, which led them to favour the peace of Breslaw, and rendered them thus inftrumental in the aggrandizement of Pruflia.
In the bosom of peace, Frederic prepared his troops for future scenes of action. Accordingly, we find him in arms against the queen of Hungary, in the Tecond volume. This volume contains a circunstancial account of this second war, in which much blood was useletsly shed during the space of fixteen months; and in which, a series of victories obtained by the Prufiian monarch had no effect more extentive than to confirm him in the poffefion of Silefia. The campaigns in Italy, in Flanders, and on the Rhine, are also related in this volume, which is terminated by the peace signed in the year 1745, after the famous ba:cle of Kefildorf, and the taking of Dresden. The reflexion wiin which bis majesty concludes it, merits the attention of all sovereigns.
· Since the art of war has been so highly improved in Europe, and since political precaution has been able to establish a balance of power among sovereign states, the greatest enterprifes produce rarely the effects that may have been expected from them. Equal, or nearly equal, forces on both sides, and viciffitudes of good and ill success that fall reciprocally to the lot of the contending parties, bring the victors and the vanquished, at the conclusion of the most eventful war, nearly to the state in which they were before they drew the sword. The only difference is, that their exhausted finances oblige them to make peace, which ought to be the work of humanity, and not the effect of neceflity. In a word, if military renown is worth the exertions that are made to obtain it, Pruflia received an abundant recompense for having undertaken this second war. But fame was all that it obtained, and even the fumes of this vain incense excited envy.'
To these fumes, Sire, was facrificed humanity, of which your majesty often speaks so kindly; for that this second war was jurtified by the principle of self-defence, has not yet, in the opinion of some writers, been clearly proved.
We readily give his majesty credit for the jufice of his cause in the famous septennial war, of which the very interesting account is contained in the third and fourth yolumes. The peace of Dresden, like many other treaties, had only fufpended hoftilities without extirpating the seeds of discord; and the loss of Silesia was a wound that still ulcerated in the heart of ihe Empress queen. Accordingly, hoftilities were still carried on in contemplation, in the cabinet of Vienna; and scarcely was the peace of Dresden figned, when that court, in secret coalition with Saxony and Rufna, laid a formidable plan for the humiliation of Frederic. The moment seemed favourable: France was out of humour at bis concluding two treaties of peace without its concurrence, and thus be was left without an ally. But, by
an unexpected change in the state of Europe, and in the connexions of its sovereigns, the king found support; and even had he stood alone, it was necessary to conjure the rising storm, and to make head against his enemies, before they were ready to execure their projects: accordingly he began the feptennial war from a principle of self-defei.ce.
In the account here given of this war, the king had two purposes in view, which he has executed in the molt masterly and fatisfactory manner. The first was, to prove to posterity, with the clearek evidence, thae the war in question was forced on him; and that he could not, consistently with his own honour and the good of his people, consent to a peace on any other condicicns than those on which it was obtained; his second object was, to relare circemttantially all the military operations with the greatest posible perspicuity and precision, in order to leave on record, an authentic account of all the advantages or unfavourable Geuations in the provinces and kingdoms where the war will naturally be carried when the houses of Austria and Brandenburg th all think proper to quarrel. This is very well; but, by the publication of this history, the rival houses will profit equally by the king's relations and remarks.
The artifice employed by the court of Vienna to excite raspicion and enmity against the king of Prullia in all the courts of Europe, is here related in a large derail: meneson is also made of the principal events that happened in the different countries, which were either direcily or indirectly concerned in this complicated septennial contest: and as, after the peace of Dresden, the war wos still continued between the courts of Vienna and England on the one lide, and those of France and Spain on the other, our royal author gives a compendious view of the military operations and political tranfactions from 1746 to 1756, which tend to throw light on the history that forms ine principal subject of these volumes.
It is generally known, what heroic valour, what brilliant efforts of capaciry and genius, and what invincible strength and constancy of mind, were displayed by Frederic in the reprennial var; in which his fplendid series of victories was more than once interrupted by disasters that threatened a period to all his greatness. Whoever reads there volumes, will lee all these vicilicudes admirably described, and will follow the victor with a p.culiar pleasure, since his cause was as just as his exploits were glorious.
Ii is not so much by a well-founded appeal to justice, as by the plea of necality (which, at best, only softens ihe harsh features of iniquity), that his majesty pretends to claim indulgence for the transactions related in the fifth volume, more especially for the partition of Poland. He was in a pitiful case, as he tells
us himself, at the end of the feptennial war in 1763. He saw nothing around him but an impoverished nobility, a ruined people, burnt villages, towns destroyed by fieges or incendiaries, anarchy in all the departments of government and police, confufion and disorder in the finances, and an aspect of defolation every where. His experienced ministers and counfellors were dead. The flower of his army had perished in seventeen battles. His regiments were partly composed of deserters and captives; and military discipline was so relaxed, that his ancient corps were little superior to a fresh militia. Add to all this, England had made peace with France, and he had not a single ally. To remedy this dismal state, much labour was to be employed, and lucky accidental occasions were to be improved. At this period, the internal troubles of Poland, produced by the claims of the Dissidents, prepared it for spoliation; and was it not natural for Frederic, in his familhed condition, to put his finger into the pye, when he saw that it was inevitably to be divided, and to secure for himself the best morfels which he could catch ?-In the Memoirs of the Political State of Europe, from the Peace of Huberisburg in 1763, to 1775, are valuable materials for those who may write the modern history of the European states; and in the Negociacions relative to the Troubles of Poland, are useful hints and directions for those who may be disposed to divide them: and this volume is terminated by the Imperial and Royal correspondence relative to the fucceffion of Bavaria. This concludes the historical part of the present work.
The fixth volume sets out with Confiderations on the State of the European Republic, and the views and negociations of the powers that compose it. This early production, which announced, indeed, rich fruits of genius in a maturer period, was penned in the year 1736, when Frederic was Prince Royal, and in the twentyfourth year of his age. It discovers an ardour of political curiosity which was very rare at that time of life, an eye keenly fixed on the conduct of the different courts of Europe, an extensive acquaintance with their respective interests, and a penetracing sagacity which foresees, in the characters and proceedings of minifters, the plans which their policy prepares and which their dilimulation conceals from the eye of the public. Such faculties, at such an age, can Scarcely be accompanied by meekness. Accordingly che ardent spirit and the aspiring genius of the young hero, make brilliant flourishes in several places. He looks over the heads of the princes and warriors of his time, which were not, indeed, very lofty, the wigs excepted; and after a com- . prehensive view of the itate and politics of Europe, and the ministerial conduct of cardinal Fleury, his favourite, he breaks out into the following ejaculations : What would Richlieu, what would Mazarin say, if they could raise their heads in our days?