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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

Karl Friedrich Wilhelm von Schlegel


[Sidenote:

French ambitions]

[Sidenote: Polignac Prime Minister]

[Sidenote: Liberal opposition]

Russia's acceptance of foreign mediation at Adrianople brought disappointment to France. Reverting to Napoleonic ambitions, King Charles's Ministers had proposed a partition of the Ottoman Empire on the basis of a general rearrangement of Europe. Russia was to have the Danubian provinces near the Austrian empire, Bosnia and Servia; Prussia was to have Saxony and Holland; Belgium and the Rhine provinces were to fall to France, and the King of Holland was to be installed in the Sultan's divan at Constantinople. It was a chimerical project which it was hoped might avert the impending troubles at home by dazzling acquisitions abroad. A formidable majority had been raised up against the government by its persistent encroachments upon the freedom of speech and of the press. Martignac's Ministry resigned and Prince Polignac, a crony of the King, was put in his place. In August, the "Journal des Debats" thundered against him: "Now again is broken that bond of love and confidence which joined the people to the monarch. The people pay a million of taxes to the law; they will not pay two millions on the orders of the Minister. What will he do then? Will he bring to his assistance the force of the bayonet? Bayonets in these days have become intelligent. They know how to defend the law. Unhappy France,

unhappy King!" The Bertins were prosecuted for that article and condemned. It only made matters worse. Societies were formed throughout France to refuse the payment of taxes should the government attempt to raise them without the consent of the Chambers. In the face of this growing popular opposition, the King and his Minister resolved to prepare an expedition against Algiers. As Guizot put it, "They hope to get rid of their difficulties through conquest abroad and a resulting majority at home." The death of Paul Barras about this time served to revive revolutionary memories in France.

[Sidenote: The Schlegels]

The memory of Madame de Stael and her struggle for freedom of speech and of literary opinion against Napoleon were recalled by the death of her long-time friend and biographer, Karl Friedrich Wilhelm von Schlegel, brother of August Wilhelm, the German poet. Karl studied at Goettingen and Leipzig, devoting most of his time to the classics. It was his ideal to become the "Winckelmann of Greek Literature." Schlegel's first publication was "Greeks and Romans." In 1798 he wrote "Lucinda," an unfinished romance, and "Alarcos," a tragedy. In 1803 he joined the Roman Church, and several years later was appointed an imperial secretary at Vienna. He served as Consul of Legation for Austria in the German Diet at Frankfort. Besides his published lectures, Schlegel's chief works are: "History of the Old and New Literature" (1815), "Philosophies of Life" (1828), "Philosophy of History" (1829), and the posthumous work "Philosophy of Language." His wife, a daughter of Moses Mendelssohn, was the author of several works published under Schlegel's name. During the same year Pope Leo XII. died at Rome and was succeeded by Pius VIII.

[Sidenote: Andrew Jackson inaugurated]

In the United States of North America, John Quincy Adams was succeeded by Andrew Jackson. Calhoun was re-elected Vice-President. A motley crowd of backwoodsmen and mountaineers, who had supported Jackson, crushed into the White House shouting for "Old Hickory." For the first time the outgoing President absented himself from the inauguration of his successor. He had remained at his desk until midnight of the previous day signing appointments which would deprive Jackson of so much more patronage. Jackson took his revenge by the instant removal of 167 political opponents. His remark, "To the victor belong the spoils," became a byword of American politics. The system of rotation in office dates from his administration.


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