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has arrived on the scene of conflict just after the destruction of another with which it ought to have co-operated; and thus, instead of putting a knife to the throat of the enemy, has only supplied a fresh repast for his inordinate ambition. Buonaparte had conquered Hanover, and his victorious armies were overrunning the north of Germany; at this period, Ernest, the reigning Duke of Saxe-Coburg Saalfeld, was at the head-quarters of the Prussian army. The defection of Prussia from the great cause of Europe had not then been obtained by the annexation of Hanover to its dominions; and Buonaparte, influenced by the full spirit of active vengeance against the. Coburg family, publicly denounced the Duke of Coburg as one of his principal enemies; and, in strict conformity with that denunciation, seized all the territories of the family, and laid a heavy contribution upon the country. .. The youth of Prince Leopold had hitherto prevented him from taking a very active part in the momentous events which were then enacting on the theatre of Europe; but the goodness of his heart, and the excellence of his disposition, manifested themselves in a striking manner, in his assiduous attentions on his mother, solacing her under the severe privations which she was then experiencing, and cheering the hours of her widowhood by the fondest anticipation of her wishes.
The third sister of Prince Leopold having been married to the Grand Duke Constantine of Russia,
the House of Saxe-Coburg Saalfield became more closely connected with the court of Russia.
On this occasion, a high rank in the Russian army was given, not only to Duke Ernest, but to Prince Leopold; and it was at that time intended that the latter should devote himself to the Russian service. In the year 1803, Prince Leopold was promoted to the rank of general.
At the memorable peace of Tilsit, the influence of that court succeeded in obtaining the restoration of the territories formerly belonging to the House of Saxe-Coburg Saalfeld; but, on Duke Ernest taking possession of the country, he found it in the most abject state of poverty. It
presented almost a barren desert to his view; the fields, which a short time before bore the mark of the husbandman's toil, and flourished with the most luxuriant fertility, were now ploughed by the wheels of the cannon, and trampled by the warhorse. The various institutions which had been erected for the promotion of the arts and sciences, or for purposes of charity, were levelled with the ground, and the castles of his forefathers presented an undistinguishable mass of ruins. It becomes not, therefore, a matter of surprise, that in the breast of the three princes of the House of Saxe-Coburg Saalfeld, a deep hatred of French supremacy should have taken root, to burst into the most luxuriant action, whenever an opportunity should present itself. The deliverance of their country was predominant in their thoughts, though
MEMOIRS OF H. R. H.
they forbore at that time openly to express it; but they regarded it as a sacred injunction upon them, and the sequel will testify how nobly they obeyed it.
In the year 1808, Ernest, the reigning duke, repaired to St. Petersburgh, and left the administration of the duchy to his brother, Prince Leopold. The able manner in which he performed the duties of his office, the uprightness and impartiality with which he administered the laws, the provisions which he made for the encouragement of the manufactures of the country, the very economical manner in which he managed the finances, and the wholesome regulations which he established in the civil and military departments of the government, excited the admiration and gratitude of his countrymen, and gained for him the envied title of its benefactor.
An interview having been agreed on between Napoleon and the Emperor Alexander, at Erfurt, Prince Leopold, with his brother-in-law, the Grand Duke Constantine, attended that celebrated meeting, at which the gigantic and ambitious plans of Napoleon became first manifest to the Emperor Alexander; and exposed to him the danger in which even his own distant frontiers was involved, were he to enter into the designs of Napoleon, which were nothing less than the entire subjugation of the surrounding states, which after being completed, his own empire would lay open to the attack of the ambitious conqueror; and, as
a favorable result to such a contest did not appear to him so positive as to induce him to co-operate in the conquest of the adjoining states, he adopted the most prudent line of policy which presented itself at that juncture, and decided on a strict neutrality. The presence of Prince Leopold, at this meeting, was evidently not only displeasing but embarrassing to Napoleon in the highest degree. He knew the patriotic sentiments which directed the actions of the Princes of the House of Coburg Saalfeld, and therefore watched their motions with the most scrupulous exactness. He appeared to have a painful presentiment resting upon his mind, that by the abilities and exertions of those illustrious princes, a limit would be placed to his career of bloodshed and ambition; and he doubted not that, on the first reverse of his fortune, they would cordially declare against him. Accordingly, in 1809, when Austria was again involved in war with France, it was a positive demand on the part of Buonaparte, that Prince Ferdinand of Coburg should quit the Austrian service, which, however, at that time was not complied with; but, in 1810, the demand was repeated, and it was coupled with the most peremptory order, that Prince Leopold should also quit the Russian service. To expostulate on the injustice of the latter demand, Prince Leopold repaired to Paris; but instead of succeeding in the object of his 'mission, he was emphatically informed, that he had the choice of two measures,
either his secession from the Russian service, or the annexation of the Coburg territories to one of the adjoining states. This was a sine qua non wholly unexpected on the part of Prince Leopold, though conveying, at the same time, a most flattering compliment to himself; he accordingly, sacri. ficed his own private interests to those of his family, and his resignation was received by the Emperor of Russia, coupled however, with the stipulation, that he should still hold his rank in the Russian service.
During some time, Prince Leopold was employed in the diplomatic department of his country; and as from the convulsed state of Germany, and the frequent changes in the territorial boundaries of the respective countries, many disputes had arisen, which, on the part of some were vexatious, and on others were founded on the right of the strong, it required no inconsiderable
portion of diplomatic talent to reconcile the jarring : interests of the respective parties, and to prevent
an open appeal to the sword in the adjustment of their conflicting claims. To the credit and honor of Prince Leopold, it must, however, be recorded, that in all the arrangements which were submitted to his decision, he was actuated by the purest spirit of justice; and ultimately succeeded, especially with Bavaria, where the complicated interests were of doubtful issue, in effecting that definitive arrangement by which the frontiers of the respective countries were finally established.