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Essay on Mahometanism, or a few pages of Dean Milman's sketch of the life of the Prophet in his History of Latin Christianity,' than in Mr. Burton's three bulky volumes. Nevertheless, even in this respect, such a work is not without its value. Exhibiting in the strongest light the strange tenacity of forms which characterises the Mahometan creed, and the extraordinary fervour which commonly appears to accompany their formal observances, it brings out in strong contrast the intellectual immobility of the system; its hopeless incapacity, whether for internal development or for external expansion ;the hidden source of that barrenness which has cursed it through all its later history, and which, save in one memorable period, has communicated its own fatal blight to arts, literature, civilisation, and progress, in every country where it has found a home, Mr. Burton has never paused to speculate on the future destinies of the faith which he has thus minutely described; but the picture of it which his volumes present is only a new illustration of a painful, though not utterly unconsoling truth,——a new evidence that

While the world rolls on from change to change,

And realms of Thought expand,

The Letter stands without expanse or range,
Stiff as a dead man's hand.'

ART. IV.-Geschichte der Deutschen Höfe. Von Dr. EDUARD VEHSE. (History of the German Courts. By Dr. EDWARD VEHSE.) Hamburg: 1854-56.

FROM

ROM the signature of the Peace of Westphalia, which closed the great cycle of religious wars on the Continent, until the French Revolution of 1789, the events of Central European. history were not of so absorbing and predominating an interest as those which preceded and followed them. The contests were chiefly dynastic, in which no grand principle — religious or political-was at stake. War was carried on with wonderful technical skill, and the practical genius of a Turenne, a Marlborough, a Vauban, a Cohorn, and a Frederick evolved all the leading theories of modern military science. Political intrigues during this period were as tortuous and ingenious as if they had been planned by pashas of three tails, and executed by eunuchs. In the Arts there was a gradual decline from the Italian Macchinisti down to the tasteless realism of Denner, the vapid sentiment of Pompeo Battoni, and the sensuous

elegance of Boucher. Science certainly made gigantic strides, and literature was preparing to change the face of Europe, but the art of living and the art of government were low, contracted, and corrupt.

In Germany this was the age of court luxury in the secondary capitals. France gave the tone, and every petty prince or great elector must have his miniature Versailles, his geometrical garden, his 'manège,' his mistress, and his mythological ballet. At these courts a crowd of greedy and polite adventurers were to be found ready at five minutes' notice to fight a duel or marry a cast-off Odalisque, while the court poet, the musical composer, and the scientific hair-dresser made up the list of the household. Reason had stinted room in societies where the chief business was scandal; but a larger place was allowed to Wit, which, as Diderot nicely says, 'is not Reason itself, but its dress or decoration.' At Hamburg it may require four Germans to club together to appreciate a bon mot; but that was assuredly not the case at the courts of Augustus the Strong or of Charles Eugene.

Dr. Vehse is the literary Denner of these German provincial capitals. He is neither an artist nor a philosopher. He has neither the gift of brilliant description nor of profound speculation; but in his portraits not a wart or a wrinkle is omitted. If any prince had a foible, if any haughty living grandee has a great grandfather whose plebeian origin is willingly forgotten, or a grandmamma whose frailties have reposed in the dust of half a century, Dr. Vehse exhumes them with a zeal and a zest which have carried pain and shame into hundreds of families; but, we must add, (such is humanity!) that he has produced from twenty to thirty of the most racy volumes of personal gossip to be found in the whole range of literature a large part of the matter being original. He says that he has not violated his oath of Saxon Archivarius. We believe him; but it is clear that his apprenticeship to historical research gives the direction and value to his works. He frequently goes beyond his depth; and errors might be pointed out by the score; but by the mere accumulation of curious details we rise up from the perusal of the life of an Augustus the Strong, or of a Bruhl, firmly persuaded that we know the moral features and personal habits of the men as familiarly as if we had lived under the same roof with them for months or years.

Prussia and Saxony are, beyond all question, the most interesting of his books. Hanover and the English Aristocracy appear to us to be the worst and the most inaccurate. Court of Hanover has no interest after the departure of George

The

I. for England; and those of Bavaria and Wurtemburg very little during the eighteenth century. The Regency orgies of the Court of Nymphenbourg, and the amiable philanthropy of a Count Rumford, are all that the best memory cares to retain of this inanimate period. In Saxony we perceive Vehse to be most at home; and the affairs of Prussia, which are inseparable from those of this Electorate, relate to the most interesting and remarkable personages of the earlier part of the eighteenth century.

The Louis Quatorze of Saxony was the celebrated Augustus the Strong, a man of Herculean muscular powers, who could lift weights, straighten horse-shoes with his two hands, and go through other exercises which astonished his subjects. Latterly he became a glutton and a drunkard, but resembled his model in palace-building, in love of the arts, in devotion to the sex, in splendid courtesy and rigorous etiquette, and last, though not least, in a devouring political ambition, which placed the crown of Poland on the head of the Elector of Saxony, who wore it until his death in 1733.* But Saxony paid dearly for this elevation. Not less than eleven millions of dollars were expended, according to the Theatrum Europeum,' on the Royal Election; and, altogether, the Polish connexion cost Saxony not less than eighty-eight millions of dollars, a sum which was covered by loans in Holland, sales of territory to the already increasing Prussia, and by a most heavy internal taxation.

The principal transactions during the reign of Augustus, which terminated, as we have stated, in 1733, were those relating to the War of Succession and the rivalries of Russia and Sweden. With those well-known events we will not meddle, but content ourselves with some account of the personages in his own immediate vicinity. The favourite ministers of Augustus the Strong were Beichlingen, Flemming, and Vitzthum, the latter being the most constant favourite.

Vitzthum had no political talents, but was a most perfect courtier and man of the world, handsome in person, exquisite in courtesy, an admirable shot, horseman, and tennis-player, with a great flow of animal spirits under the control of a rigorous measure of etiquette. He killed time with the pleasantest sallies imaginable, but without ever descending to the comic.

6

In the various arts which Augustus cultivated correct orthography cannot be included: " Voici ce que vous pourrez remontrer aux états d'Hollande et donner part au résident d'Angleterre, de ce qu'il aura à dire,' is disguised as follows:-Voissi ce que vous pourres remontrer os estas dohlentes et donner pars au Ressiden 'denglesterre de ce qu'il orras a dierres.'

But the parts of husband and wife were inverted: while he was the ornament of the merriest court in Christendom, his spouse was a woman of business and political manager. She was admirably painted by a Baron Haxthausen, who figures as the St. Simon of this Saxon Louis Quatorze; and we doubt if the French chronicler could have hit off a political intriguer with more verisimilitude and refinement.

Madame de Vitzthum,' says Haxthausen, had something striking in her presence, notwithstanding a slightly turned-up nose; her eyes were large and blue, her lips vermilion, her teeth good, her complexion fine. She was tall and elegant in person, queenly in her air. Having been brought up in the world and at court, she bore the impress of both, a childish laugh alone excepted. She was highly sensitive, but under the self-imposed discipline of the most delicate tact. Her powers of observation were great. Her eyes were everywhere, and she took notice of the smallest matters however large the company. She divined with ease the thoughts of others, and with sure judgment generally formed a correct estimate of affairs from the first circumstances that came to her knowledge. In conversation she expressed herself elegantly without throwing away a useless word. Commencing with questions wide of her mark, she insensibly approached the point she wished to learn, and, having arrived at it, would then glide into other subjects, leaving her interlocutor in the dark. She could conceive projects, balance the reasons for and against them, set them in motion, and, by incessant perseverance and vigilance, bring them to bear on her objects, foreseeing everything, neglecting nothing. She lived with splendour, and yet was such a manager that her affairs were always in order. She governed her husband, and yet left him the air of being master. She pushed him into the Great Chamberlainship and into the Cabinet itself without a portfolio. She built magnificent palaces, and acquired twelve large estates by her management.'

This, at first sight, seems an ideal character; but the solid results to her family of this lady's talents for manoeuvring leave little doubt of the general accuracy of the portrait, though her success is anything but a convincing proof of the possession of those virtues which we demand in our own generation.

The licensed humourist of the court was old General Kyan, the adjutant of the King, who delighted in his society. In an age of official malversation the boon companion could sometimes play the Mentor. One day at table the King asked him to pour out some rare Hungarian sweet wine. Kyan placed the King's glass in the centre, and those of the other great state and financial officials all round. The outer glasses were filled to the brim, but in the King's were only a few drops. What does all this represent?' said the King. The collection of the State revenues,' said Kyan. On another occasion this

Saxon Polonius wanted a snug berth for his old age; and at table asked the King's permission to exchange position with him for a few minutes. This the King granted. On which, Kyan sat up in his chair with the King's hat on his head, and began a speech to the King, whom he harangued as General Kyan, eulogising his merits, and granting him a post of governor of the fortress of Konigstein. The King was so taken with the fancy, that the patent was made out, and he died in this post at eighty years of age.

In one respect Augustus the Strong was most unlike Louis Quatorze, for he would have none but nobles in his administration; and during his reign La Roture' was carefully excluded from power and favour in Saxony. No Voisins or Chamillarts were to be found in the higher councils of Augustus. In modern times, the sovereigns of Germany have seen it their interest to elevate citizens to high places, not only in Prussia with her Dankelmanns, but in Austria with her Thuguts, Bachs, and Brucks. At this period in Saxony, and for long afterwards, the government was purely aristocratic. On the 15th of March, 1700, Augustus issued a patent, excluding from a seat in the estates every member who married a non-noble woman, or who could not prove eight noble ancestors on father's and mother's side; while all the superior officers of the army were nobles. Even those possessing letters of nobility, who might be able and well-informed, but did not belong to the old noblesse, were not admitted. Such was Suhm, to whom Frederick the Great wrote when Crown Prince, Comment est-il possible '(soit dit sans vous flatter) qu'une personne d'autant de mérite, d'esprit, et de savoir comme vous soit negligée et même 'oubliée ? Et qu'elle idée se peut-on faire d'une cour où des 'Suhm ne sont pas récherchés.' Strange to say, the master of the ceremonies at court had been a citizen, but, as was stated in a diploma of another German prince whom he had previously served, he was a man of singular erudition, skill, manners, 'reasonable comportment, and knowledge of the world in 'general.'

Augustus was very fond of regal and military pomp; and the enormously costly court festivities were a very heavy tax on the poorer noblesse, who had all to appear on the occasion of a foreign sovereign's visit. Mythological processions, in full antique costume, were organised with such splendour, that, says the Frank'furter Relation,' with gleeful malice, they will be remembered by all, more especially many an honest cavalier, who would 'rather have staid at home than have danced in downcast spirits and empty purse in a ballet of Olympic deities.' The opera

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