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himself, the laft Bampton Lecturer, acknowleges, that to speak of the perfons in the Trinity collectively, as three Gods and three Lords, has an air of Polytheism.'—Mr. H. would have proceeded much more prudently, had he adhered to his ownmaxim: We cannot be too cautious, too referved, or too general, in our doctrine, from the pulpit or the prefs, refpecting the holy Trinity.'-The truth is, as Dr. Balguy has judiciously obferved, "We cannot believe the truth of a propofition, unless we understand its meaning-words not understood are no objects of faith:-many doctrines are unjustly cenfured for falfehood, when they are only veid of meaning."
ART. XI. The Life of Baron Frederic Trenck; containing his Adventures; his cruel and exceffive Sufferings, during Ten Years Imprisonment, at the Fortrefs of Magdeburg, by Command of the late King of Pruffia; alfo, Anecdotes, Hiftorical, Political, and Perfonal. Tranflated from the German, by Thomas Holcroft. 12mo. 3 Vols. 12s. fewed. Robinfons. 1788.
AN, confidered in his focial capacity, is an object at once both amiable and interefting. Prone, perhaps, to acts of the higheft benevolence and kindness, yet born with appetites and paffions unknown to any other of the animal creation, he feels, when reftricted in the exercife of his particular propenfities (whatever the nature of those propenfities may happen to be), that his fituation is inferior to the condition of the brute. Confciousness is, in fuch a cafe, his greatest evil.
The Gentleman, whofe Memoirs we are now to confider, is a fignal and ftriking example of the truth of the preceding remark. Formed, both by nature and education, for great and diftinguished actions, but wholly unable to fubdue or even checka turbulent and infolent fpirit, he was deprived, by the hand of power, of the liberty he ardently loved :-chains and a dungeon were his doom. Thus, by imprudent conduct, did he pull down vengeance on his own head; and thus were his endowments and excellencies rendered useless to the world and to himself! To fuch a man, indeed, Confideration will probably come, as fhe does to moft. But alas! he is then unable to do bim good *.
In perufing that part of our Author's narrative which comprehends the many years paffed by him in prison, we naturally commiferate his fufferings, as men, while as citizens weareobliged to acknowlege that the fentence, by which he was fubjected to them, appears not to have been wholly unjuft. That Frederic the Second,
*Confideration like an angel came,
And whipp'd the offending Adam out of him.'
of Pruffia, a man diftinguished by the elegance and refinement of his manners: a Monarch, who, in poffeffing arbitrary power, had openly attacked the political principles of the generally cenfured Machiavel + (though by the way we have always confidered the performance in question, The Prince,' as partly ironical), and who in making this public attack was confequently defending the rights of mankind against the invafion of the defpot and the tyrant-That fuch a man should wantonly and inhumanly (that is, on account of flight and trivial offences) imprison the object of his immediate regard; the foldier whom, as we gather from the Baron himself, he had in early life diftinguifhed by particular rewards and employments; is highly improbable indeed !. But let us attend to particular circumftances.
The Baron in his dedication to the Ghoft of Frederic.'which dedication is omitted by Mr. Holcroft in his tranflation-has the following energetic expreffion: I will not difguise facts, nor relate untruths.-If I do, may pofterity call me a liar, and the prefent world deem me a villain.' We give him full and entire credit for his veracity in almoft every effential point. It is indeed from his opennefs and candour that we are enabled to determine on his peculiar character, and that we are induced boldly to pronounce him in the wrong.
In the first place, then, he had won over to himself the affection of the Princess A-; and this, in the opinion of the Pruffian Monarch, was undoubtedly a capital crime: and in the fecond, he was charged with holding a correfpondence with the Pandour Trenck, a commander in the Auftrian fervice, and confequently an enemy to the King. Now, as the Baron acknowleges that Frederic was led to conclude him a traitor, from
+ See the 'Anti Machiavel,' ou Examen du Prince de Machiavel,' of the King of Pruffia: a work replete with fentiments the most liberal, manly, and juft. In proof of this we beg leave to cite a fingle paffage from it. Combien n'eft point deplorable la fituation des peuples; lorfquils ont tout à craindre de l'abus du pouvoir fouverain, lorique leurs biens font en proie à l'avarice du Prince, leur liberté à fes caprices, leur repos à fon ambition, leur fureté à fa perfidie, et leur vie à fes cruautés ? C'est là le tableau tragique d'un Etat où regneroit un Prince, comme Machiavel pretend le former.'
Witness the remark of Frederic to the French ambaffador, on the Baron's returning from a foraging party with confiderable spoil. ⚫ Ce'ft le matadore de ma jeuneffe.' We do not, however, perceive the force of matadore, and have little doubt but that the expreffion made use of by the King was matamare de ma jeuneffe, i. e. The Hector: the defender of my youth. The French explain matamore by faux brave.
Holcroft's Tranflation of the Life of Baron Trenck. the misrepresentations of a man of the name of Jafchinsky, who 257 was conftantly about the Royal Perfon, and who had forged a letter from the aforefaid Pandour to our Author, inviting him to join his forces, declaring that he would receive him with open arms, like his friend and fon.'-As this, we obferve, was really the cafe, it is furely not a little extraordinary that Baron Trenck fhould attack his fovereign with vehemence and paffion : nay, that he should in one page rail against him as the pattern of injuftice, and in another vindicate him intirely from the charge. That fuch are the inconfiftencies exhibited in his narrative, the following paffages are felected to prove :
It had been written from Vienna to Berlin, that the King muft beware of Trenck, for that he would be at Dantzic at the time when the King was to vifit his camp in Pruffia. What thing more vile, what contrivance more abominable could the wickedeft wretch on earth find to banish a man his country, that he might fecurely enjoy the property of which the other had been robbed! That this was done, I have living witneffes in his Highness Prince Ferdinand of Brunfwic, and the Berlin miniftry, from whofe mouths I learned this artifice of villany. It is the more neceffary to establish this truth, because that no one can comprehend why the Great Frederic should have proceeded against me in a manner fo cruel as, when it comes to be related, muft raise the indignation of the juft, and move hearts of iron to commiferate.' by the breath of his power, entailed mifery upon me, who gave me Frederic the Great, who fufficient cause to speak truth undifguifedly, will, certainly, in his now enlightened ftate, behold the moderate manner in which I have juftified myself, with very different eyes to what he would, had he, while on earth, perufed it with all the perverfity of defpotic obftinacy, and clouded by the prejudices of human weakness.'
So much for the injuftice and oppreffion of which our Author fo bitterly complains, in the progrefs of his hiftory. But now let us attend to his reasoning on the conduct of the King.
I wrote to the King (Baron T. was at that time a prisoner in the fortrefs of Glatz), and sent him a true ftate of my cafe: fent indubitable proofs of my innocence, and fupplicated juftice, but received no answer.
In this the Monarch may be juftified, at leaft in my apprehenfion. A wicked man had maliciously and falfely accufed me : Colonel Jafchinsky had made him fufpect me for a traitor, and it was impoffible he should read my heart. The firft act of injustice had been haftily committed. I had been condemned unheard, unjudged, and the injuftice that had been done me was known too late; Frederic the Great found he was not infallible. Pardon I could not ask, for I had committed no offence*; and the King would not, probably, own, by a reverse of conduct, that he had been guilty of injustice.
It must be remembered, that Frederic, at this time, fuppofed him to be in correfpondence with the Auftrian Trenck. Rav. Sept. 1788.
My refolution increafed his obftinacy; but, in the difcuffion of the caufe, our power was very unequal.
The Monarch once really loved me; he meant my punishment fhould only be temporary, and as a trial of my fidelity. That I had only been condemned to a year's imprisonment, had never been told me, and was a fact I did not learn till long after.
Major Doo, who, as I have faid, was the creature of Fouquet*, a mean and covetous man, knowing I had money, had always acted the part of a protector, as he pretended, to me, and continually told me I was condemned for life. He perpetually turned the converfation on the great credit of his General with the King, and his own great credit with the General. For the prefent of a ho fe, on which I rode to Glatz, he gave me the freedom of walking about the fortrefs; and for another, worth an hundred ducats, I rescued Enfign Reitz from death, who had been betrayed when endeavouring to effect our escape. I have been affured, that, on that very day on which I fnatched his (Major D.'s) fword from his fide, defperately paffed through the garrifon, and leaped the walls of the rampart, he was exprefsly come to tell me, after fome prefatory threats, that by his General's interceffion, my punishment was only to be a year's imprisonment, and that confequently I fhould be released in a few days.
How vile were means like thefe, to wreft money from the unfortunate! The King, after this my mad flight, certainly was never informed of the Major's bafe cunning: he could only be told that, rather than wait a few days, I had chofen, in this defperate manner, to make my escape and go over to the enemy. Thus deceived, and ftrengthened in his fufpicions, muft he not imagine my defire to forfake my country and go over to the enemy was unbounded? How could he do otherwife than imprifon a fubject who thus endeavoured to injure him and aid his foes? Thus by the calumnies of wicked men, did my cruel deftiny daily become more fevere, and at length render the deceived Monarch irreconcileable and cruel."
Thus have we brought the Reader acquainted with the circumstances which had induced, or, as we perhaps fhould rather fay, compelled the Northern Hero to imprifon the Baron Trenck. To the petitions which were prefented in his favour, the King had uniformly anfwered- He must not be releafed.'-' He is a dangerous man.' That our Author was naturally haughty and vindictive, he repeatedly informs us, in the courfe of his work. How far he might be dangerous we cannot pretend to fay, but he was certainly troublefome in. no trifling degree. What, for inftance, can more fully mark his irritable difpofition, than the following paffage in his dedication to the fhade of Frederic?
I had no army to defend my rights, or your Majesty knows I would have led it on.' Such was no doubt his language to the Monarch when living:-and the words, your Majefty
Governor of the citadel of Glatz.
knows,' &c. confirms us in the opinion. That there is a neceffity for confining the contumacious and refractory man, we have a recent example among ourselves. The Writer is much diffatisfied at not having been brought to trial for his 'imaginary crimes.' It is by no means our intention to employ a fingle argument in favour of defpotifm, but in a cafe like that before us, we know not why a formal process should have been inftituted against the offender. The King was openly infulted by one of his Officers. Could he then, to talk in the language of the Baron himself, do otherwife than imprison fuch infulter +?
The feverities inflicted on the Baron, in the castle of Magdeburg, were certainly very great. We have fome little doubt, however, whether these severities proceeded from the actual
* In corroboration of what we have advanced respecting the unhappy temper of Baron T. we will ftate the addrefs of General Krufcmarck to him when in prison, together with the answer which was given to it.
Had you curbed this fervour of yours: had you asked pardon of the King, perhaps you would have been in very different circumftances; but he who has committed an offence in which he obftinately perfifts, endeavouring only to obtain freedom by feducing men from their duty, deferves no better fate."- • The Philofopher will always be able to brave and defpife the Tyrant.' Is this the language of reafon and philofophy? Were thefe the proper means by which to obtain a release from imprisonment? We are really forry to obferve it, but the Baron appears in almost every action of his life to have erred from the violence of his paffions. He fays of his production, entitled, The Macedonian Hero- This is a poem that, by the daringness with which it is written, might, indeed, well draw down the vengeance of tyranny.'-He tells us alfo, in another place, I vifited Profeffor Gellert at Leipfic, fhewed him my manufcripts, and afked his advice concerning what branch of literature he thought it was probable I might beft fucceed in. He moft ap.. proved my Fables and Tales, but blamed the exceffive freedom with which I fpoke, in my political writings. I neglected his advice, and many enfuing calamities were the confequence.' Again, in fpeaking of his marriage, Marthal Laudohn knew my miftrefs, and promoted the match. He and my friend Profeffor Gellert, both advised me to take this mode of calming paffions that often infpired projects too vaft, and that, feeking tranquillity, I fhould fly the commerce of the great.' Every incident which he has related, in fhort, is a proof that he was thoroughly an untractable man. It was once the intention of the Court of Vienna to confine him as being infane.
+ This imprisonment, as appears by the foregoing extract, was intended to be of fhort duration. It was properly a military arreft; and should have been endured with the temper becoming a man.