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FEW men have more experienced the vicissitudes of fortune, or were more deserving of her favours, than Stanislaus Leczinski, King of Poland, Duke of Lorraine and Bar. He was the son of the grand treasurer of the crown, and born at Leopold on the 10th of October, 1677. His constitution, naturally feeble, was strengthened by a masculine education, and his mind happily cultivated, became enriched with all that ancient or modern literature could produce. He studied with considerable advantage the laws of his country; and visited afterwards the principal courts in Europe. On his return from Italy he found his grandfather, Sobieski, on the point of death. His disease was followed by a turbulent interregnum. Several palatines aspired to succeed him. Frederic Augustus, Elector of Saxony, in the end prevailed, and was crowned on the 15th of September, 1697. At the same moment Charles XII. of Sweden, ascended the throne. He was young, and conceived incapable of resistance. Three great powers resolved to possess themselves of his states. But the intrepid Alexander of the North, attacked the Danes in their own territories, overpowered the Muscovites at Narva, and turned his army against Frederic Augustus. This prince was soon after compelled to resign his crown and Charles, who had proved himself sufficiently strong to deprive the Poles of one king, pretended to have a right of giving them another. Stanislaus, then in his twenty-sixth year, Palatine of Posnania, General of Great Poland, and deputed
by Charles XII. to the Assembly of Darlovie, inspired so much esteem in the mind of the conqueror, that Charles placed the sceptre in his hands. In an assembly at Colo, he proclaimed him King; and even compelled Augustus to congratulate his rival upon his elevation to the throne.
Stanislaus was very soon universally acknowledged by his new subjects, whose happiness he had at heart. But the disasters of Charles at Pultowa, were the beginning of his own misfortunes. Deprived of the succour of his protector he was obliged to abandon Poland, that was already filled with Russian troops, and of which the major part declared in favour of Augustus. It was at this crisis that Stanislaus evinced the greatness of his mind. Stralsund, Stettin, and Rostock, beheld in him alternately the intrepid soldier and skiiful general. But all his efforts proving fruitless, he abdicated the throne, in order to stop the effusion of blood which had been shed in his cause. He fled with his family to Dresden, where he experienced a calamity, which he more sensibly felt than the loss of his dominions, in the death of his eldest daughter. Soon after, the demise of Charles XII. destroyed all his hopes. He then returned to Wassembourgh, in Alsace. Frederic Augustus, indignant at the asylum which had been granted to Stanislaus, ordered his envoy, Sum, to present a remonstrance to the court of France. It was on this occasion that the regent replied to Sum, in these remarkable words: "Tell your master that France has ever been the asylum of unfortunate kings."
In 1725, seven years after, the marriage of Louis XV. with the daughter of the King of Poland, having been
celebrated at Fontainebleau, Stanislaus resolved to take up his residence at Chambord, and to forget in the sweets of repose the mischances of his past life. But his misfortunes were not yet terminated; the death of Frederic Augustus, and the voice of a number of his countrymen, recalled him into Poland. Duty, rather than inclination, determined him to resume a crown, which had never been to him a source of felicity. He set out in the disguise of a peasant, and arrived at Warsaw, where he discovered himself; and suddenly, by one hundred thousand voices, was again proclaimed King of Poland. But his kingdom was agitated by faction. Some powerful states excited the mal-contents, whom Stanislaus might have reduced to obedience. Still the idea of a civil war, and of which he was the object, was frightful to him. He was unwilling to consolidate his power by force of arms, and replied to those who urged him to act against the insurgents: "If my throne must be cemented by the blood of my people, I would much rather renounce it for ever." This excessive goodness and indecision hastened his fall. The assistance of France having failed in preventing the election of Frederic Augustus III. son of Frederic Augustus of Saxony; and Russia and Austria having declared in favour of the new king, Stanislaus was obliged to fly to Dantzic, where he was idolized by the inhabitants. Besieged by the Russians, and seeing the city reduced to the most deplorable state, Stanislaus resolved to quit the place, to afford Dantzic the liberty of capitulating. This unfortunate prince, wandering in the midst of forests, always surrounded by enemies, and frequently betrayed by that air of dignity which burst forth through the tattered garments that covered him, was at length enabled to reach the dominions of the