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humane heart, abilities superior to his condition, a resolute mind, and a love for his country, which these madmen did not feel in their own breasts. Ambitious men, who themselves despair of governing, chuse rather to submit to a third person, who has not entered into the competition, than to obey a rival. In the present case, they determined in favour of virtue; and by this means repaired, in some measure, the mis-, chiefs they had occasioned by their contests for the throne. Piaf, therefore, the virtuous peasant, was chosen King."
The origin of the Republican Power in Poland, according : to our Author, was as follows:
“ In the fourteenth century Casimir the Great, being impatient to put an end to a long war, made a treaty of peace which the enemy required to be ratified by all the estates of the realm. , Being assembled for this purpose, they refused their concurrence, and from this time were convinced that it was not impossible to establish a Republic, and at the fame time keep a King.
“ The foundations of this constitution were laid even before the death of Casimir, who having no son, proposed his nephew Lewis, King of Hungary, for his successor. The, Poles gave their consent, but it was upon such conditions as laid heavy fetters on absolute power. They had attempted more than once to lessen it by rebellion, but they now attacked it by treaty. Their new ruler exempted them from all contributions, and gave up an established custom, by which the nation defrayed the charges of the court in all journies. He engaged also to repay his subjects, all the expenæs he was forced to be at, and even all the damages they should sustain, in any war which he undertook against the neighbouring powers. No conditions are thought burdensome when a crown is to be obtained.”
Thus did the Poles, in a great measure, drain the source of Royal Prerogative; but it was not till Jagellon, King of Li-. thuania, obtained the crown, that the republican form of
government was established. This prince, who married Hedrvi-, gia, youngest daughter of Lewis, by offering to incorporate the crown of Lithuania with that of Poland, and subscribing to the republican form of government, prevailed upon the Poles to set aside the right of fucceffion, and to reject Sigismund, who had married the eldest daughter of Lewis.
“ A Republic was now established, composed of three estates; the King, the Senate," and the Equestrian Order.
The King's portion was Majesty, Power fell to the Senate, and Liberty was the share of the Equestrian Order ; an order including all the rest of the nobility, and which soon set up tribunes by the name of Deputies. These Deputies represent the whole Equestrian Order in the General Assemblies of the nation, called Diets, and put a stop to all proceedings there, whenever they please, by their right of Veto.
*26 The Plebeians, or common people, who had in the Roman republic a share of the sovereign power in common with the Senate and the Knights, the Poles, actuated by different principles, have placed upon a level with the cattle that till the ground.
“The Legislative Power belongs essentially to the Diet, which the King is obliged to call together every two years; and in case of his failure, the Republic has a right to assemble by its own authority.
« When the Diet is assembled, all the doors are left open. to every one, because it meets to deliberate upon the public good. 'Persons who go there out of meer curiosity are struck with the grandeur of the spectacle. The King, feated on an elevated throne, the steps of which are decorated with the great officers of the crown; the Primate, almost vying in magnificence with the King; the Senators, forming two venerable rows ; the Ministers of State, over againft the King ; the Deputies, more numerous than the Senators, disposed round about them, and all standing. The foreign ambassadors and the Pope's Nuncio have also a place allotted them, but the Diet may make them retire whenever it thinks proper."
We cannot but obferve, that in the constitution of this Polish Diet, there is one most absurd and moft mischievous law, viz. that the opposition of one single member may annul | the decrees of the whole assembly. Thus if any member should happen to be of a petulant or contradictory disposition, or should suppose that any particular decree might interfere with his private interest, nothing could be done.
The Crown of Poland did not become absolutely elective till towards the latter end of the fixteenth century.
Sigismund Auguftus, dying without children, the Poles took this opportunity of guarding their liberty with new bulwarks. They examined into their old laws, limited many, extended fome, and abolifhed others; and after many debates,
it was agreed that the Kings, elected by the nation, should make no attempts to get their successors appointed : that they should not so much as propose any one to the state for this purpose, and consequently thould never aflume the title of Heirs of the Kingdom."
Now with respect to the question, Whether an elective succeffion of Kings is preferable to an hereditary one, we should indeed give our opinion in the negative. It is true, pars habet utraque caufas. When a nation has the power of electing its King, it may always have good Kings, because it is not necessary that it should have any other motive to its choice than merit. But when the general depravity of mankind is confidered; when it is observed how many very different motives, faction, or interest, or prejudice may produce ; and what heart burnings and divisions may be created by competition, particularly in a state whose nobles may become candidates for the crown, it were certainly better to avoid the miseries of civil debate, by an hereditary succession of Kings. It may indeed be objected that, in this case, you are obliged to take the bad with the good, but in a mixed government, like that of Poland, where the prince is nothing more than a meer shadow of power, it is matter of very little moment who sits upon the throne. The Poles have of late, however, made some advantages of the elective succeffion which have not yet been mentioned. By offering the Crown to the best bidder, the nobility, who are the sole electors, have found a means of improving their private fortunes ; and this indeed is no trilling confideration with the Polish nobility, many of whom are very poor and very proud, • Having thus given our observations on the French Hiftorian's prefatory sketches of Poland, we shall now proceed with him to his History of the celebrated John Sobieski.
Our Hero was born in the year 1629, when Sigismund III. was King of Poland, in the castle of Olensko, a small town in the palatinate of Ruffia. He was grandson, by the feinale line, to the famous Zolkiewski,who, together with one of his sons, bravely fell at the head of the Polifo infantry, rather chuling, with the few forces he had left, to be cut to pieces by the Turks and Tartars, than by deserting them to avail himself of the means of escape. The head of Zolkieruki was carried to Conftantinople, but it was redeemed by the Poles, and both he and bis fon were buried in the same grave in Poland. On their monument was inscribed this Latin verse : Exoriare aliquis noflris ex offibus ultor !
Sobieski never read this inscription without emotions, whicks excited him to vengeance. In 1649 Cafimir V. King of Peland, marched at the head of his army against Chmilienski, a malcontent, who with a formidable army of Cossacks and Tartars, had made dreadful destruction in Poland. It was now that young Sabieski first appeared to any great advantage in military exploits. “ All that had been yet observed in him, was an impetuous ardor that made him infenfible of danger, and a greediness after military knowlege, which carried him where duty did not require his presence. He fucceeded his father in the starosty of Javorow, in the palatinate of Russia, and appeared in the army at the head of a select troop. in the many skirmishes which must needs happen with an enemy who fled only to return to the charge, he fhewed that nature had given him all the courage of a soldier, and what is much more uncoinmon, that happy quickness of difcernment, which indicates a general. A fingular event dirplayed the credit he had acquired in fo fhort a time. The Polijn army. mutinied in the camp of Zlorow, a'city of little Poland, upon the borders of Podslia; and every method of quieting the fedition, persuasion, meinaces, and even the canon of the Lithuanian troops, was made use of in vain by the General Czarneski. The attenipt was given up as hopeless, when Sobieski desired to be employed. The temerity of extraordinary men is justified by the success that attends it. It is easy to conceive what address and cloquence he nċeded to pertuade men who had arms in their hands. The young orator carried his point, and that empire over the minds of men, which would have done honour to a consumináte General, advanced to the height of glory a youth who had yet borne no public office. The King rewarded him by making him Great Standard Bearer to the Crown."
Sobirski distinguished himfclf also in a fingular manner against Charles Gustavus of Sweden,' who had feccessfully invaded Poland. “ He blocked him up between the Viftula and the Sanus, ' hindered his being supplied with provisions, harrassed him with continual skirmishes, and receiving intelligence that Douglas, one of the Swedish Generats, was advancing with a body of six thousand men to disengage the King, he left his infantry to continue the blockade, marched with his cavalry to meet Douglas, swam across the Pilcza, a river much swelled by the melting of the snow, and with that celerity whith Cæfar considered as the first qualification of a General, furprized Douglas, defeated him, and pursued his army eight miles towards Warsaw."
About the thirty-sixth year of his age, Sobieski married Mary Casimira, a French lady, one of the maids of honour to the Queen of Poland. He had before this been appointed Grand Marshal of the Crown, and in 1667 he was made Grand General. Thus he had, what no subject ever had before, both the civil and military power in his hands.
Happily for him; the envy which this accumulated power might have drawn upon him, was entirely obviated by an event, which placed him on the highest pinnacle of popular glory.
About this time the Coffacks, in conjunction with the Tara tars, to the amount of an hundred thoufand, had invaded Polarid. Havock and destruction went before them, and defolation followed. The King of Poland shook on his throne. The finances were in a wretched condition, and the standing army, scarce amounting to ten thousand men, being ill paid, was both disheartened and disaffected. It was now that Sobieski appeared to be that great man bur Historian represents hím." Far from being affected by the general panic which had made others inactive, his faculties feem to have been newly animated by danger. He took the labouring oar, used every possible means to recover the finances, and strengthened them by his private fortune. In his own large demesnes he raised a considerable body of recruits, which, joined to others, made up the army to 20,000. About 8000 of these he sent off in different detachments, some as light troops to harrafs the enemy in their march, and others to defend the passes. With the remaining 12,000 he encamped. The enemy approached his camp, and about seventeen days passed in little more than fkirmithing. At length, with a resolution which fürprized every body, he led out his little force to give open battle to the whole Tartarian army. - The Tartars; who could scarce believe it poffible to draw him out of the camp, with a horrid fhoût ofjoy, testified their surprize. Sobieski, well acquainted with the Tartarian manner of fighting, knew that if once they were thrown into confufion, they could never recover their ranks. He therefore deterinined to break in upon them at the first onset. . This succeeded. The Poles made one vigorous push. The Tartars were confused, defeated, and flaughtered.
This victory astonished all Europe, and the name of Sobieski stood in the first rank of heroes.
bi, T. M4