Imágenes de páginas

trian monarchy, to portions of which each laid claim. Maria Theresa, however, went immediately to Vienna, and took possession of Austria, Bohemia, and her other German states; she then repaired to Presburg, took the oaths to the constitution of Hungary, and was solemnly proclaimed queen of that kingdom in 1741. Frederic of Prussia offered the young queen his friendship on condition of her giving up to him Silesia, which

the resolutely refused, and he then invaded that province. The Elector of Bavaria, assisted by the French, also invaded Austria, and pushed his troops as far as Vienna. Maria Theresa took refuge in Presburg, where she convoked the Hungarian diet; and appearing in the midst of them with her infant son in her arms, she made a heartstirring appeal to their loyalty. The Hungarian nobles, drawing their swords, unanimously exclaimed, "Moriamur pro Rege nostro, Maria Theresa!" "We will die for our queen, Maria Theresa." And they raised an army and drove the French and Bavarians out of the hereditary states. What would have been their reflections could those brave loyal Hungarians have foreseen that, in a little over a century, a descendant of this idolized queen would trample on their rights, overthrow their constitution, massacre the nobles and patriots, and ravage and lay waste their beautiful land! Well would it be for men to keep always in mind the warning of the royal psalmist, "Put not your trust in princes."

In the mean time, Charles Albert, Elector of Bavaria, was chosen Emperor of Germany, by the diet assembled at Frankfort, under the name of Charles VII.

Frederic of Prussia soon made peace with Maria Theresa, who was obliged to surrender Silesia to him. In 1745, Charles VII. died, and Francis, Maria Theresa's husband, was elected emperor. In 1748, the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle terminated the war of the Austrian succession, and Maria Theresa was left in possession of all her hereditary lominions, except Silesia. In 1756 began the Seven Years' war between France, Austria, and Russia, on one side, and Prussia on the other. It

ended in 1763, leaving Austria and Prussia with the same boundaries as before. In 1765, Maria Theresa lost her husband, for whom she wore mourning till her death. Her son Joseph was elected emperor. She however retained the administration of the government.

The only act of her political life with which she can be reproached is her participation in the first partition of Poland; and this she did very unwillingly, only when she was told that Russia and Prussia would not regard her disapproval, and that her refusal would endanger her own dominions.

The improvements Maria Theresa made in her dominions were many and important. She abolished torture, also the rural and personal services the peasants of Bohemia owed to their feudal superiors. She founded or enlarged in different parts of her extensive dominions several academies for the improvement of the arts and sciences; instituted numerous seminaries for the education of all ranks of people; reformed the public schools, and ordered prizes to be distributed among the students who made the greatest progress in learning, or were distinguished for propriety of behaviour, or purity of morals. She established prizes for those who excelled in different branches of manufacture, in geometry, mining, smelting metals, and even spinning. She particularly turned her attention to agriculture, which, on a medal struck by her order, was entitled the "Art which nourishes all other arts;" and founded a society of agriculture at Milan, with bounties to the peasants who obtained the best crops. She took away the pernicious rights which the convents and churches enjoyed of affording sanctuary to all eriminals without distinction, and in many other ways evinced her regard for the welfare of the people. She was a pious and sincere Roman Catholic, but not a blind devotee, and could discriminate between the temporal and spiritual jurisdiction. She put a check on the power of the Inquisition, which was finally abolished during the reign of her sons. She possessed the strong affections of her Belgian subjects; and never was Lombardy so prosperous or tranquil as under her reign. The population increased from 900,000 to 1,130,000. During her forty years' reign she showed an undeviating love of justice, truth, and clemency; and her whole conduct was characterized by a regard for propriety and self-respect.

Maria Theresa was, in her youth, exceedingly beautiful; and she retained the majesty, grace, and elegance of queenly attractiveness to the close of her life. She was strictly religious, sincere in her affection for her husband, and never marred the power of her loveliness by artifice or coquetry. She used her gifts and graces not for the gratification of her own vanity, to win lovers, but as a wise sovereign to gain over refractory subjects: and she succeeded, thus showing how potent is the moral strength with which woman is endowed. This queen has been censured for what was styled "neglect of her children."

Maria Theresa was the mother of sixteen chi!dren, all born within twenty years. There is every


reason to suppose that her naturally warm affec- | Joseph, her eldest son. "My son," said she, as tion, and her strong sense, would have rendered you are the heir to all my worldly possessions, her, in a private station, an admirable, an exem- cannot dispose of them; but my children are still, plary parent; and it was not her fault, but rather as they have ever been, my own. I bequeath them her misfortune, that she was placed in a situation to you; be to them a father. I shall die contented where the most sacred duties and feelings of her if you promise to take that office upon you." She sex became merely secondary. While her numer- then turned to her son Maximilian and her daughous family were in their infancy, the empress was ters, blessed them individually, in the tenderest constantly and exclusively occupied in the public terms, and exhorted them to obey and honour their duties and cares of her high station; the affairs elder brother as their father and sovereign. After of government demanded almost every moment repeated fits of agony and suffocation, endured, to of her time. The court physician, Von Swietar, the last, with the same invariable serenity and waited on her each morning at her levée, and patience, death, at length, released her, and she brought her a minute report of the health of the expired on the 29th of November, 1780, in her princes and princesses. If one of them was in- sixty-fourth year. She was undoubtedly the greatdisposed, the mother, laying aside all other cares, est and best ruler who ever swayed the imperial immediately hastened to their apartment. They sceptre of Austria; while, as a woman, she was all spoke and wrote Italian with elegance and one of the most amiable and exemplary who lived facility. Her children were brought up with ex- in the eighteenth century. treme simplicity. They were not allowed to indulge in personal pride or caprice; their benevolent feelings were cultivated both by precept and example. They were sedulously instructed in the "Lives of the Saints," and all the tedious forms of unmeaning devotion, in which, according to the sincere conviction of their mother, all true piety consisted. A high sense of family pride, an unbounded devotion to the house of Austria, and to their mother, the empress, as the head of that house, was early impressed upon their minds, and became a ruling passion, as well as a principle of conduct with all of them.

We have only to glance back upon the history of the last fifty years to see the result of this mode of education. We find that the children of Maria Theresa, transplanted into different countries of Europe, carried with them their national and family prejudices; that some of them, in later years, supplied the defects of their early education, and became remarkable for talent and for virtue. That all of them, even those who were least distinguished and estimable, displayed occasionally both goodness of heart and elevation of character; and that their filial devotion to their mother and what they considered her interests, was carried to an excess, which in one or two instances proved fatal to themselves. Thus it is apparent that her maternal duties were not neglected; had this been the case she could never have acquired such unbounded influence over her children.

Maria Theresa had long been accustomed to look death in the face; and when the hour of trial came, her resignation, her fortitude, and her humble trust in heaven, never failed her. Her agonies during the last ten days of her life, were terrible, but never drew from her a single expression of complaint or impatience. She was only apprehensive that her reason and her physical strength might fail her together. She was once heard to say, "God grant that these sufferings may soon terminate, for otherwise, I know not if I can much longer endure them."

After receiving the last sacraments, she summoned all her family to her presence, and solemnly recommended them to the care of the emperor


DUCHESS of Saxe Gotha, daughter of Ulric of Saxe Meinungen, was born in 1572. Her talents as a performer on the piano, and as a composer, would have been creditable to a professed artist. Several of her canzoni, and also variations for the piano, have been published; but her most impor tant work is a symphony in ten parts. She died towards the beginning of this century.



JEANNE DE LORRAINE, ARCHDUCHESS of Austria and queen of France, daughter of the emperor Francis I. and Maria Therese, was born at Vienna, November 2d, 1755. She was carefully educated, and possessed an uncommon share of grace and beauty. Her hand was demanded by Louis XV. for his grandson, the dauphin, afterwards Louis XVI., to whom she was married in 1770, before she had attained her fifteenth year. A lamentable accident, which occurred during the festivities given by the city of Paris to celebrate the marriage, was looked upon as a sinister omen, which subsequent events having confirmed, has acquired undue importance.

Owing to the injudicious arrangements for the exhibition of fireworks, a great number of people were thrown down and trodden to death, more than three hundred persons having been killed or wounded. In 1774 Louis XVI. ascended the throne; in 1778 the queen became, for the first time, a mother. During the first years of her residence in France, Marie Antoinette was the idol of the people. After the birth of her second son, when, according to usage, she went to church to return thanks, the populace wished to remove the horses from her carriage, and draw her through the streets; and when she alighted and walked, to gratify them, they flung themselves upon their knees, and rent the air with acclamations. Four years from this period, all was changed. The acts of kindness and benevolence which the queen had exhibited; her grace, beauty, and claims upon the nation as a woman and a foreigner, were all forgotten. Circumstances remote in their origin had brought about, in France, a state of feeling fast ripening to a fearful issue. The queen could no longer do with impunity what had been done by her predecessors. The extravagance and thoughtlessness of youth, and a neglect of the strict formality of court etiquette, injured her reputation. She became a mark for censure, and finally an object of hatred to the people, who accused her of the most improbable crimes. An extraordinary occurrence added fuel to the flame of calumny. The countess de la Motte, a clever but corrupt woman, by a vile intrigue in which she made the cardinal de Rohan her tool, purchased, in the queen's name, a magnificent diamond necklace, valued at an enormous sum. She imposed upon the cardinal by a feigned correspondence with the queen, and forged her signature to certain bills; obtained possession of the necklace, and sold it in England. The plot exploded. The queen, indignant at the cardinal, demanded a public investigation. The affair produced the greatest scandal throughout France, connecting as it did the name of the queen with such disgraceful proceedings; and though obviously the victim of an intrigue, she received as much censure as if she had been guilty. Accused of being an Austrian at heart, and an enemy to France, every evil in the state was now attributed to her, and the Parisians soon exhibited their hatred in acts of open violence. In May, 1789, the States-General met. In October the populace proceeded with violence to Versailles, broke into the castle, murdered several of the body-guard, and forced themselves into the queen's apartments. When questioned by the officers of justice as to what she had seen on that memorable day, she replied, "I have seen all, I have heard all, I have forgotten all."

mily, every variety of privation and indignity. On the 21st of January, 1793, the king perished on the scaffold; the dauphin was forcibly torn from her, and given in charge to a miserable wretch, a cobbler called Simon, who designedly did everything in his power to degrade and brutalize the innocent child. On the 2d of August, Marie Antoinette was removed to the Conciergerie, to await her trial in a damp and squalid cell. On the 14th of October, she appeared before the revolutionary tribunal. During the trial, which lasted seventy-three hours, she preserved all her dignity and composure. Her replies to the infamous charges which were preferred against her were simple, noble, and laconic. When all the accusations had been heard, she was asked if she had anything to say. She replied, "I was a queen, and you took away my crown; a wife, and you killed my husband; a mother, and you deprived me of my children. My blood alone remains: take it, but do not make me suffer long." At four o'clock, on the morning of the 16th, she was condemned to death by an unanimous vote. She heard her sentence with admirable dignity and self-possession. At half-past twelve, on the same day, she ascended the scaffold. Scarcely any traces remained of the dazzling loveliness which had once charmed all hearts; her hair had long since become blanched by grief, and her eyes were almost sightless from continued weeping. She knelt and prayed for a few minutes in a low tone, then rose and calmly delivered herself to the executioner. Thus perished, in her thirty-seventh year, the wife of the greatest monarch in Europe, the daughter of the heroic Maria Theresa, a victim to the circumstances of birth and position. No fouler crime ever stained the annals of savage life, than the murder of this unfortunate queen, by a people calling themselves the most civilized nation in the world.

Marie Antoinette had four children. Marie Therese Charlotte, the companion of her parents in captivity, born 1778. In 1795 she was exchanged for the deputies whom Dumouriez had surrendered to Austria, and resided in Vienna till 1799, when she was married by Louis XVIII. to his nephew, oldest son of Charles X. Napoleon said of her that "she was the only man of her family." The dauphin, Louis, born in 1781, and died in 1789. Charles Louis, born in 1785; the unfortunate prince who shared his parents' imprisonment for a time, and died in 1795, a victim to the ill-treatment of the ferocious Simon; and a daughter who died in infancy.


ARCHDUCHESS of Austria, duchess of Parma, was the eldest daughter of Francis I., emperor of Austria, by his second marriage, with Maria Theresa, daughter of the king of Naples. She was born in 1791, and April 1st, 1810, married Napoleon. Her son was born March 20, 1811. When Napoleon left Paris to meet the allied army, he made her regent of the empire. On the 29th of March, 1814, she was obliged to leave Paris; Na

She accompanied the king in his flight to Varennes, in 1791, and endured with him with unexampled fortitude and magnanimity the insults which now followed in quick succession. In April, 1792, she accompanied the king from the Tuilleries, where they had been for some time detained close prisoners, to the Legislative Assembly, where he was arraigned. Transferred to the Temple, she endured, with the members of the royal fa-poleon abdicated his authority April 11th, and

Maria Louisa went to meet her father at Rambouillet, who would not allow her to follow her husband, but sent her, with her son, to Schönbrunn. When Napoleon returned from Elba, he wrote to his wife to join him, but his letters remained unanswered. In 1816 she entered upon the administration of the duchies of Parma, Piacienza, and Guastalla, secured to her by the treaty of Fontainebleau. While there she privately married her master of the horse, Colonel Neipperg, by whom she had several children. She was apparently amiable, but weak, self-indulgent, and surrounded by artful advisers, who kept her in the thraldom of sensuous pleasures till she lost the moral dignity of woman. What signified her royal blood and high station! She lived unhonoured, and died unwept.


CELEBRATED for her faithfulness to the Spaniards, and for the assistance which she afforded them in the conquest of Mexico, was born at Painalla, in the province of Coatzacualco, on the south-eastern borders of the Mexican empire. Her father, a rich and powerful Cacique, died when she was very young. Her mother married again; and, wishing to give her daughter's inheritance to her son by the second marriage, she cruelly sold her to some travelling merchants, and announcing her death, performed a mock-funeral to deceive those around her. These merchants sold the Indian maiden to the Cacique of Tabasco; and when the Tabascans surrendered to Cortés, she was one of twenty female slaves who were sent to him as propitiatory offerings. Speaking two of the Mexican dialects, Marina was a valuable acquisition to Cortés as interpreter, which value increased tenfold, when with remarkable rapidity she acquired the Spanish language. Cortés knew how to value her services; he made her his secretary, and, finally won by her charms, his mistress. She had a son by him, Don Martin Cortés, commendador of the military order of St. James, who afterwards rose to high consideration; but finally falling under suspicion of treasonable practices against the government, was, in 1568, shamefully subjected to the torture in the very capital which his father had acquired for the Castilian crown!

Prescott, to whose admirable work, "The Conquest of Mexico," we are chiefly indebted for this memoir, describes Marina as follows:-"She is said to have possessed uncommon personal attractions; and her open, expressive features, indicated her generous temper. She always remained faithful to the countrymen of her adoption; and her knowledge of the language and customs of the Mexicans, and often of their designs, enabled her to extricate the Spaniards, more than once, from the most embarrassing and perilous situations. She had her errors, as we have seen; but they should be rather charged to the defects of her early education, and to the evil influence of him to whom, in the darkness of her spirit, she looked with simple confidence for the light to guide her. All agree that she was full of excellent qualities; and the important services which she rendered

the Spaniards have made her memory deservedly dear to them; while the name of Malinche - the name by which she is still known in Mexico—was, pronounced with kindness by the conquered races, with whose misfortunes she showed an invariable sympathy."

Cortés finally gave Marina away in marriage to a Spanish knight, Don Juan Xamarillo. She had estates assigned her, where she probably passed the remainder of her life. Marina is represented as having met and recognised her mother after a long lapse of time, when passing through her native province. Her mother was greatly terrified, fearing that Cortés would severely punish her; but Marina embraced her, and allayed her fears, saying, "that she was sure she knew not what she did when she sold her to the traders, and that she forgave her." She gave her mother all the jewels and ornaments about her person, and assured her of her happiness since she had adopted the Christian faith.


OF Venice, was born in 1571. Her talents were surprisingly versatile. She was learned in church history, understood and practised the art of sculpture, was skilled in music, and besides left many literary productions, lives of several saints, a treatise entitled "The Excellence of Women and the Defects of Men;" an epic poem; several epistles to the duchess d'Este; and many other pieces. of poetry, both sacred and profane. She died in 1653.


A VENETIAN lady, who lived in the seventeenth century, in 1601, published a book at Venice with this title "La nobilita é la eccellenza della donne, con difetti é manecamenti degli uomini ;" in which she attempted to prove the superiority of women to men. Marinella published some other works; among these, one called "La Colomba Sacra ;" and "The Life of the Holy Virgin, and that of St. Francis."


WAS the daughter of Mr. Jennings, a country gentleman of respectable lineage and good estate. She was born on the 26th of May, 1660, at Holywell, a suburb of St. Albans. Her elder sister, Frances, afterwards duchess of Tyrconnel, was maid of honour to the duchess of York; and Sarah, when quite a child, was introduced at court, and became the playfellow of the princess Anne, who was several years younger than her


Sarah succeeded her sister as maid of honour to the duchess of York; which, however, did not prevent her having constant intercourse with the princess, who lived under the same roof with her father, and who at that early age showed the greatest preference for her.

In 1677, Sarah Jennings married, clandestinely, the handsome colonel Churchill, favourite gentleman of the duke of York. Both parties being poor, it was an imprudent match; but the duchess of York, whom they made the confidant of their

attachment, stood their friend, and offered her powerful assistance. She gave her attendant a handsome donation, and appointed her to a place of trust about her person. The young couple followed the fortunes of the duke of York for some years, while he was a sort of honourable exile from the court; but when the establishment of the princess Anne was formed, she being now

married, Mrs. Churchill, secretly mistrusting the durability of the fortunes of her early benefactress, expressed an ardent wish to become one of the ladies of the princess Anne, who requested her father's permission to that effect, and received his consent. The early regard evinced by the princess Anne for Mrs. Churchill, soon ripened into a romantic attachment; she lost sight of the difference in their rank, and treated her as an equal, desiring a like return. When apart, they corresponded constantly under the names, chosen by the princess, of Mrs. Morley and Mrs. Freeman.

No two persons could be less alike than the princess and Sarah Churchill; the former was quiet, somewhat phlegmatic, easy and gentle, extremely well bred, fond of ceremony, and averse to mental exertion; the latter, resolute, bold, inclined to violence, prompt, unwearied and haughty. Swift, who was, however, her bitter enemy, describes her as the victim of "three furies which reigned in her breast, sordid avarice, disdainful pride, and ungovernable rage." The duchess of Marlborough's strongest characteristic appears to have been a most powerful will. Much is said of the ascendancy which a strong mind acquires over a weak one; but in many instances where this is thought to be the case, the influence arises from strength of will, and not from mental superiority. In the present instance, this was not altogether so; for the duchess of Marlborough was undoubtedly greatly superior to queen Anne in mind, but if her sense and discretion had been properly exercised, in controlling that indomitable will, which foamed and raged at everything which obstructed her path or interfered with her opinions, her influence might have been as lasting as it was once powerful.

On the accession of James II., Churchill was created a baron; but, attaching himself to the Protestant cause, when the prince of Orange landed, he deserted his old master and joined the prince; lady Churchill, meanwhile, aiding the princess Anne in her flight and abandonment of the king her father. On the accession of William and Mary, in 1692, to the English throne, Churchill was rewarded for his zeal by the earldom of Marlborough, and the appointment of commander-inchief of the English army in the Low Country. Afterwards, falling into disgrace with the king and queen, lord and lady Marlborough were dismissed the court. Princess Anne espoused the cause of her favourite, and retired also; but, upon the death of queen Mary, they were restored to favour. The accession of Anne to the throne on the death of William, placed lady Marlborough in the position which her ambitious spirit coveted; she knew her own value and that of her gallant husband. She knew that Anne not only loved but feared her; that she would require her aid, and have recourse to her on all occasions of difficulty; and she felt equal to every emergency. A perusal of the letters of the queen to lady Marlborough at this period, is sufficient evidence of the subjection in which she (the queen) was held by her imperious favourite; the humility which they express are unworthy of her as a sovereign and as a woman. That Anne was already beginning to writhe under this intolerable yoke, there can be no doubt. From the commencement of her reign, a difference in politics between herself and her favourite was manifested. Lady Marlborough had a strong leaning to the whig side, while the queen was always attached to the tory party; and dissensions soon arose as to the ministers who were to surround the throne. Since the advancement of lord Marlborough, his lady had lost much of the caressing devotion which she had hitherto manifested for the queen; and exhibited to her some of that overbearing arrogance with which she treated the rest of her contemporaries. It is not astonishing that the queen, under these circumstances, should have sought for sympathy in one near her person who had suffered from the same overbearing temper. Abigail Hill, a poor relation of lady Marlborough's, whom she had placed about the queen as bed-chamber woman, was the prudent and careful recipient of her mistress's vexations, and gradually acquired such influence with her as eventually to supersede her powerful relative as favourite. Much has been said of the ingratitude of Mrs. Masham to her early benefactress. As there is no evidence that she had recourse to improper or dishonourable means to ingratiate herself with the queen, this charge cannot be substantiated. The queen's favour was a voluntary gift. Lady Marlborough alienated her mistress by her own arbitrary temper; and the queen only exercised the privilege which every gentlewoman should possess, of selecting her own friends and servants. Meanwhile, the brilliant successes of lord Marlborough obliged the queen to suppress her estranged feelings towards his wife, and bound her more closely to the

« AnteriorContinuar »