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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

Had him arrested in his castle of Pontarlier


The

tradition handed down by Peter the Great forbade any alliance with England; M. de Campredon, French ambassador at Petersburg, was seeking to destroy this prejudice. One of the empress's ministers, Jokosinski, rushed abruptly from the conference; he was half drunk, and he ran to the church where the remains of the czar were lying. "O my dear master!" he cried before all the people, "rise from the tomb, and see how thy memory is trampled under foot!" Antipathy towards England, nevertheless, kept Catherine I. aloof from the Hanoverian league; she made alliance with the emperor. France was not long before she made overtures to Spain. Philip V. always found it painful to endure family dissensions; he became reconciled with his nephew, and accepted the intervention of Cardinal Fleury in his disagreements with England. The alliance, signed at Seville on the 29th of November, 1729, secured to Spain, in return for certain commercial advantages, the co-operation of England in Italy. The Duke of Parma had just died; the Infante Don Carlos, supported by an English fleet, took possession of his dominions. Elizabeth Farnese had at last set foot in Italy. She no longer encountered there the able and ambitious monarch whose diplomacy had for so long governed the affairs of the peninsula; Victor Amadeo had just abdicated. Scarcely a year had passed from the date of that resolution, when, suddenly, from fear, it was said, of seeing his father resume power, the young king, Charles Emmanuel,
had him arrested in his castle of Pontarlier. "It will be a fine subject for a tragedy, this that is just now happening to Victor, King of Sardinia," writes M. d'Argenson. "What a catastrophe without a death! A great king, who plagued Europe with his virtues and his vices, with his courage, his artifices, and his perfidies, who had formed round him a court of slaves, who had rendered his dominion formidable by his industry and his labors; indefatigable in his designs, unresting in every branch of government, cherishing none but great projects, credited in every matter with greater designs than he had yet been known to execute, --this king abdicates unexpectedly, and, almost immediately, here he finds himself arrested by his son, whose benefactor he had been so recently and so extraordinarily! This son is a young prince without merit, without courage, and without capacity, gentle and under control. His ministers persuaded him to be ungrateful: he accomplishes the height of crime, without having crime in his nature; and here is his father shut up like a bear in a prison, guarded at sight like a maniac, and separated from the wife whom he had chosen for consolation in his retirement!" Public indignation, however, soon forced the hand of Charles Emmanuel's minister. Victor Amadeo was released; his wife, detained in shameful captivity, was restored to him; he died soon afterwards in that same castle of Pontarlier, whence he had been carried off without a voice being raised in his favor by the princes who were bound to him by the closest ties of blood.

The efforts made in common by Fleury and Robert Walpole, prime minister of the King of England, had for a long while been successful in maintaining the general peace; the unforeseen death of Augustus of Saxony, King of Poland, suddenly came to trouble it. It was, thenceforth, the unhappy fate of Poland to be a constant source of commotion and discord in Europe. The Elector of Saxony, son of Augustus H., was supported by Austria and Russia; the national party in Poland invited Stanislaus Leckzinski; he was elected at the Diet by sixty thousand men of family, and set out to take possession of the throne, reckoning upon the promises of his son-in-law, and on the military spirit which was reviving in France. The young men burned to win their spurs; the old generals of Louis XIV. were tired of idleness.


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